Days after moving into his new home, Diggy faces eviction due to Waterford Township breed discrimination laws and a case of mistaken identity.
Diggy, formerly known as Sir Wiggleton, captured the Internet's attention with his bright, goofy smile and heartwarming story of adoption. A viral picture posted by Detroit Dog Rescue lead to Internet fame, but it may also lead to his eviction.
Diggy spent nearly 100 days waiting for a special someone to rescue him from shelter life and give him the family he desperately needed. Last week, that waiting paid off when local Waterford Township musician, Dan Tillery, came to the shelter looking for a new four-legged best friend.
Diggy charmed Tillery with his one-of-a-kind smile and goofy personality, and just like that, a friendship was born. Tillery officially adopted Diggy and brought him to his Waterford Township home early last week. The staff at Detroit Dog Rescue shared in the pair's excitement by posting a Facebook photo of the enthusiastic best friends.
The photo soon went viral for obvious reasons (look at that smile!), but it also caught the attention of Waterford Township officials.
The township follows a 30-year old ordinance that bans all pit bull breed dogs. After seeing Diggy's goofy grin and square-ish face plastered all over the Internet and even national television, officials automatically assumed he was a pit bull.
Only a few days after Diggy moved in, police arrived at Tillery's home. Tillery said in an interview with CBS Detroit,
"They asked if he's a friendly dog, I said he's the friendliest dog. When they went to the gate to actually see him, he licked their faces, was very kind. They said, we're dog lovers, that's cool, he seems like a good boy. Took some pictures of him."
Tillery hoped the matter had been settled, but an hour later, he received a phone call from the township. Tillery relayed the conversation by saying,
"He said, you know, we don't really need much more than I think he's a pit, and that's enough, so, he looks like a pit, I think he's a pit, he's got to go. You have three days to have him out of your home."
That deadline was Monday. Tillery, who said he has no plans to disobey the city ordinance, made a Facebook post on Friday saying,
"I don't like controversy, I hate it actually. I just love dogs."
Tillery had registered and obtained a proper license for Diggy shortly after the adoption was made official. All documentation states that Diggy is an American Bulldog mix, not a pit bull. The City of Detroit Animal Control and Welfare is also supporting the dog's heritage, and a veterinarian confirmed Diggy's mixed background to exclude the American Staffordshire Terrier breed.
Even with this supporting evidence, Diggy's future is unclear. The consequence of owning a pit bull/pit bull terrier within Waterford Township includes a civil infraction and a $500 fine. Tillery plans to relocate Diggy in order to comply with the city's breed discrimination laws, but an online petition with over 59,000 signatures is fighting--for Diggy's sake as well as actual pit bulls everywhere--to overturn the decades-old ban.