When Dan Tillery and his girlfriend Megan opted to adopt a young bulldog from a Detroit area rescue, they had no idea this selfless act would lead to a criminal citation.
The two-year-old stray had found himself in a no-kill shelter, Detroit Dog Rescue, after being plucked from the streets by animal control. The dog’s playful antics eventually earned him a new nickname, Sir Wiggleton, and eventually, with Tillery, a new forever home.
That’s why Tillery, who lives about an hour outside Detroit in Waterford Township, was surprised to find two cops at his door one morning. The officers were inquiring after Tillery’s new fur-legged family, who’s goofy antics had inspired earned a starring role on Tillery’s social media feeds. Several of those posts had even gone viral, including one with 24,000 likes that even earned a nod from Good Morning America.
Now it looked like the puppy’s newfound Instagram fame might also be his undoing. The officers had also noticed the dog’s photos online, and believed the dog now-known as Diggy was a pit bull, which have been banned throughout Waterford County since the ‘90s. (One of the officers reportedly tried to warn Tillery that his new companion was a very dangerous dog, right before Diggy lovingly licked him in the face.)
The officers left the musician with two unsavory choices – either give up the dog, or risk a criminal citation. Tillery opted for the latter, and then contacted Detroit Dog Rescue, which had papers declaring Diggy was actually an American Bulldog, to back up his story.
The clarification didn’t stop the county from slapping Tillery with a $500 fine, however, so Tillery turned to the Internet to help solve his quandary. The story quickly went viral, and before long, The Michigan Humane Society was involved.
In time, 54,000 people had signed a two-part petition, both declaring their support for Diggy and decrying the pit bull ban. Sure, pit bulls can be dangerous if they’re bred to be — like all dogs — but singling out a specific breed is unfair and outdated. At a town hall called to debate the issue, dog handlers pointed out that people have greater odds of being bit by a dachshund or chihuahua.
The case ultimately went to court, which ruled in Diggy’s favor. Dan and Megan couldn’t be happier; Tillery even celebrated with a new tattoo of his furry family. We’re so happy for Dan, Megan, and Diggy! Congratulations on your new family!
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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