A Michigan musician, Dan Tillery, was featured in a photo with his new pal, named Diggy, which he had just adopted from Detroit Dog Rescue. The selfie, picturing Tillery’s goofy grin next to the dog’s elated, gaping maw, instantly went viral.
Two Waterford Township police officers visited Tillery’s home about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Detroit News said.
After seeing the animal in person, police are advising that the dog looks like a pit bull. According to an ordinance, Diggy needs to be out of the city by June 13, according to Fox 2 Detroit.
Waterford Township Police Lt. Scott Good said that someone in the neighborhood had complained about the dog.
“We responded to it and we determined that the dog met the criteria of the ordinance in terms of not being allowed in the township.”
Detroit Dog Rescue representative Kristina Rinaldi insists that the dog is not a pit bull. She said the organization even called the city to make sure it was okay for Dan to adopt the dog.
“Not only did we make sure his paperwork said American Bulldog, we also called the clerk and said what are your restrictions on American Bulldogs, we want to adopt one out in your township.”
Lt. Good indicated that the officers are just doing their job.
“Most of us if not all of us are pet lovers. We understand that relationship but we are empowered to enforce and carry out the laws of the township and state so this is one of the things we have to do.”
If Diggy is not removed from the home within the designated time frame, Tillery could be fined $500.
“I follow the rules. I follow the law. I want to keep Diggy. I just believes it starts from bitterness. The dog has been smiling and licking face since his existence here.”
The dog, who had been named Sir Wiggleton by the rescue group, had languished at the shelter for almost 100 days before Tillery adopted him on Monday and changed his name to Diggy.
— Care2.com (@Care2) June 10, 2016
The two quickly went viral after the giddy photograph was posted on the Detroit Dog Rescue Facebook page, the Detroit News said.
“The post received around 27,000 reactions and was shared more than 6,000 times by Friday morning, leading to nationwide coverage from local papers to Good Morning America, People magazine and more.”
The anti-pit bull ordinance, which has been established in the city for over 20 years, states that it is the officers’ discretion to decide of the dog is a pit bull and up to the owner to prove otherwise.
The officials did not issue Tillery a citation but did advise that the dog must be out of the city by June 13. Tillery said he plans to fight a citation, as this amounts to a case of mistaken identity.
Waterford Township Police Lt. Todd Hasselbach indicated that the photo alone is telling, but there may be hope for Diggy.
“I’m looking at a picture of this dog and it looks like a pit to me. I’d write a ticket. (Tillery) can fight it. We’ve issued tickets before for dogs that looked like a pit, and then (owners) have brought in papers later that shows that it’s not a pit. And we’ve dismissed the ticket.
“If he can show that it’s not (a pit bull), then it’ll be fine. He just has to keep those papers on him because his neighbors are gonna keep calling.”
Tillery added that he has papers from DDR, Detroit Animal Control, and Welfare and a veterinarian confirming Diggy’s breed as American bulldog.
Update: Diggy remains in the home and Tillery has been issued a citation, according to WXYZ. But a veterinarian has issued a statement confirming that Diggy is an American Bulldog, not a pit bull.
It is unclear whether Diggy will be allowed to stay in Waterford Township.
[Image via Dominik Michalowski/Shutterstock]