After a three-month long legal fight, it's official; the smiley bulldog has a permanent home.
Diggy first captured the world's attention back in June when his infectious smile went viral. Back then, the American Bulldog had every reason to smile. After over 100 days in a Detroit animal shelter, he was finally being adopted!
Tides quickly turned, however, when Diggy's new owner, Dan Tillery, was confronted by town officials and a 30-year-old breed discrimination law. The Waterford Township city ordinance bans all pit bull/pit bull terrier breeds, and violation of the law can result in a civil infraction and a $500 fine.
Not willing to give up their budding friendship, Tillery began a long fight on Diggy's behalf. Diggy may have the goofy grin and square-ish face associated with many American Staffordshire Terrier breeds, but he is actually an American Bulldog.
Tillery received verification of his dog's breed from the Detroit Dog Rescue. He also presented documentation from a Waterford veterinarian confirming it. Three months later, the court finally made a decision. Tillery announced on Tuesday that the ordinance violation charge was dismissed, and Diggy is officially allowed to come home.
Tillery wrote on his Facebook page,
"Thanks for all of the support everybody! We did it! Thanks Kristina Millman-Rinaldi and Detroit Dog Rescue for sticking with us throughout this process. Thank you Bobby Murkowski and Miller Canfield for the Great Job done! Thanks to everyone involved. We get to keep our boy. He's a good boy."
Kristina Rinaldi, DDR director, also shared in Tillery's excitement,
"I think the whole world loves Diggy! We, at DDR, are thrilled that we were able to help him find his way to a happy forever. Diggy's road to forever was a combination of so many great people working together and that's what rescuing dogs is all about."
After months of shelter life and weeks of uncertainty, the smiley bulldog earned his happily ever after, but unfortunately, breed discrimination laws are common throughout the country. Pit bulls and breeds with similar appearances are judged based on stereotypes and prejudice.
Many Waterford Township families have been forced to give up their pets because of the ban. Humans and dogs alike have suffered unjustified heartache because of a deeply rooted societal misunderstanding. Diggy's case spurred the support of thousands of people ready to let go of those outdated beliefs and lift the city-wide ban.
The community argues that aggressive dogs come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and most of all, breeds. They propose that cases of aggressive pets should be handled on a case-by-case basis, and to date, they've reached over 111,000 supporters.
Diggy's story is one of friendship and loyalty, and it's another chapter in the fight against breed discrimination.