Diggy the dog and his new owner, Detroit musician Dan Tillery, were all smiles when they finally became best friends, but after a photo of the pair went viral following Diggy’s rescue, police are saying the dog can’t stay in town.
Tillery adopted Diggy from the Detroit Dog Rescue after he had been at the shelter for nearly 100 days. A photo of Diggy smiling with Tillery at his new home quickly took over the Internet, but it also got the attention of the Waterford Township Police Department, according to the rescue.
The Michigan city has an ordinance banning pit bulls or pit bull terriers. According to the ordinance, that includes "any dog which exhibits those phenotypical characteristics which substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club" for American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American pit bull terriers.
According to the rescue, animal control and veterinary paperwork classified Diggy as an American bulldog, and the rescue called the township before approving the adoption.
But last week, city officials "made a visual identification on Diggy and classified him as a pit bull," the rescue wrote in a Facebook post Friday.
"The identification came after several 'concerned citizens,' most of whom do not live in Waterford, flooded the police station with complaints," the post read. "Police now state that Diggy has three days to leave the township. Diggy was polite to the officers and played with them like the friendly dog he is, but now Diggy may be forced out of Waterford Township, MI. We understand that the police officers are just acting as agents for the community they serve and we look forward to resolving this matter with them."
Police could not immediately be reached for comment on the matter, but told the Oakland Press they gave Tillery a three-day grace period to remove Diggy from the home.
Waterford Police Chief Scott Underwood told the publication "it's a pretty clear case of an ordinance that makes it clear what's permissable and what's not."
A petition looking to keep Diggy at his new home and lift the "pit bull ban" has since received more than 65,000 signatures.
"This ordinance has been in place for many years," the petition says. "Many families have had to give up their family pets due to this law. It is important for all of us to come together and be a voice for not only Diggy the American Bulldog, but all of the pets and people that have suffered heartache in the past years. We must remember, it is not the animal that is the beast, it is man that creates the beast. Aggressive dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and BREEDS. This should be handled on a case by case basis."
Tillery has taken to Facebook to address the controversy saying, "I just want our dog to stay home with us where he belongs." He wrote Monday that because Diggy remained at his house, he was issued a citation.
"We are cooperating with the Waterford Police," he wrote. "All we can do now is remain hopeful that this can be resolved soon."
Tillery added that he never wants "another dog to be discriminated against based off what they look like again."