A Waterford veterinarian has determined Diggy, a rescue pup at the center of a controversy surrounding a Michigan town's ordinance banning pit bulls, is an American bulldog.
Diggy's new owner, Detroit musician Dan Tillery, has been fighting to keep his beloved rescue pup after a photo of the two went viral, garnering attention from the Waterford Township Police Department.
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.
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 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.
Police could not immediately be reached for comment on the matter, but told the Oakland Press they gave Tillery a three-day grace period Friday 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."
Tillery, who received a $500 citation Monday for still having the dog in his home, said he submitted new paperwork from a Waterford veterinarian, who determined Diggy is in fact an American bulldog, to authorities this week. He is now waiting to hear from the township prosecutor, but no timeline has been set, he said.
"I love Waterford and I don’t hate the police officers here," Tillery told NBC Chicago. "I’m a pretty reasonable guy. I think that they’ll follow the paperwork. I've provided what I needed to."
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Tillery said he anticipated there may be questions surrounding his beloved new pup after the photo went viral, but what he didn't expect was that his dog's appearance would be enough to cause such a problem.
"I thought that because I had two vets' paperwork, I thought that’d be it," he said. "I did not expect for them to say, 'Well he looks like a pit bull to me so he’s got to go,' and for the whole world to rally around the dog."
A petition looking to keep Diggy at his new home and lift the "pit bull ban" has since received nearly 80,000 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 said while he appreciates all the support and hopes no other dog gets discriminated against like Diggy, his focus remains on his current battle.
"I keep trying to tell everyone that I want to help everyone, but as of right now my case is that I've got an American bulldog with paperwork and I want to keep him. I've got to focus on Diggy before I try to step in on anything else."
As for what might happen if police still say Diggy can't stay, Tillery said, "I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."
"I have no intentions of Diggy going anywhere," he said. "Diggy's my dog."