Why Was A Smiling Dog Banned From This Town?

Last week, the world fell in love with Diggy, a rescue mutt with a big, goofy grin on his face. Diggy’s new owner, Dan Tillery sent a photo of himself and his new pet to the Detroit Dog Rescue the day he adopted him. On Monday June 6th the rescue group posted the selfie to their Facebook page, apologizing in advance for “breaking the internet.” And by Friday June 10th they nearly did.

The photo of Diggy and Tillery was featured in People magazine and a video of Tillery playing guitar to Diggy was featured on ABC news. The world had fallen in love. But the Waterford, MI Township where Tillery lives was less enthused.

Now after nearly 100 days waiting to be rescued, Diggy faces the possibility of being taken away from what should have been his forever home. As reported in The Detroit News, two officers were dispatched to Tillery’s home on Thursday, June 9th after receiving several phone calls about an alleged pit bull living in the Waterford Township. For more than 20 years, Waterford, MI has had an ordinance in place which bans pit bulls from living within the township. The officers were sent to determine whether or not Diggy was in violation of this ordinance.

Though Diggy is suspected of being at least a pit bull mix, the Detroit Rescue Group, Detroit Animal Control, and the city’s veterinarian have all identified Diggy as an American bulldog – with paperwork to support the claim. Lt. Todd Hasselbach of the Waterford Township Police stated to The Detroit News that spoke about the American bulldog claim. “If he [Tillery] can show that it’s not [a pit bull], then it’ll be fine,” Hasselbach said when told of the paperwork. “He just has to keep those papers on him because his neighbors are gonna keep calling.”

Despite the evidence to support that Diggy is indeed an American bulldog, Waterford officials are still classifying Diggy as a pit bull, according to ABC news. Waterford officials used visual guidelines set in place by the AKC to determine Diggy’s breed. In fact, the ordinance itself states that any dogs with characteristics that, “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers,” will be subject to removal as per the ordinance. Officials also pointed out that the Detroit Rescue Group originally classified Diggy as an American bulldog/pit bull mix when they advertised that he was available for adoption via Facebook.

According to The Washington Post, fines for owning a pit bull in the Waterford Township can reach up to $500.00. But currently Waterford officials are choosing not to write Tillery a citation, and stated that Diggy instead needed to be removed by Monday, June 13th. According to police and USA Today, Tillery intends to comply. In the meantime, an online petition with over 65,000 signatures is in the works, calling for the ban on pit bulls in the Waterford Township to be lifted. The final outcome remains to be seen.

While Diggy only spent a week with Tillery and his girlfriend in Waterford, it’s hard to imagine the dog being a danger to neighbors. Tillery told ABC news, that, “Every time I see him, I get a big dumb smile, and every time he sees me he gets a big dumb smile.” In fact it was love at first sight because of that smile. Detroit Rescue Group posted a photo to Facebook of Diggy – then known as Sir Wiggleton – in hopes of speeding up his adoption process. The photo featured Diggy and his signature goofy grin. As Tillery told The Detroit News, “It was like, ‘We need this guy. He looks like he has a lot of personality.’”

Let us know your thoughts on the situation in the comments below!

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