UPDATE: Diggy Classified as American Bulldog by Waterford Vet, Will Police Agree?Matthew Russell
Good news for Diggy:
Now that a Waterford Township veterinarian has classified Diggy as an American bulldog, there should be nothing threatening his seperation from owner Dan Tillery. Waterford Police Chief Scott Underwood said last week that if a local independent veterinarian classified Diggy as anything but a pit bull, he could stay in Waterford. Now Tillery waits to meet with prosecutors at a conference hearing to determine the final ruling.
After musician Dan Tillery adopted Sir Wiggleton, now Diggy, from the Detroit Dog Rescue, their goofy grins caught the eyes of millions on the internet. But a week later, as Diggy is a pit bull in the eyes of the Waterford Township Police, the pair are facing separation.
Waterford Township Police maintain that a longstanding ordinance barring pit bulls and pit bull mixes outlaws the dog from the township. Even though Detroit Animal Care and Control classified Diggy as an American bulldog when they picked him up as a stray, Waterford Township’s ordinance defines pit bulls as dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American Staffordshire terriers — to the township police, that includes Diggy.
Kristina Millman-Rinaldi, executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, said that the organization was cognizant of Waterford Township’s breed restrictions before granting Tillman a license for Diggy. With veterinary papers claiming his American bulldog status in hand, they even contacted township officials before he left the center.
A statement from Waterford Police Chief Scott Underwood in early June said that the department had received several complaints about Diggy, leading them to visit Tillery’s home.
“Based on their observations, it was determined the dog was part pit bull/pit bull terrier,” said Chief Underwood.
Despite paperwork claiming otherwise, Waterford Township officers are permitted to determine the breed of a dog on sight, and have labeled Diggy a pit bull Owning a pit bull in Waterford is an ordinance violation that can carry a $500 fine.
“This is the craziest ordinance you’ll ever hear in your life,” Millman-Rinaldi said, explaining that it allows a police officer or animal control officer to make a “visual determination” about whether or not a dog is a pit bull.
Detroit Dog Rescue has been leading the efforts to keep Tillman and Diggy together through a Facebook campaign asking Waterford Township residents and business owners to write letters in support of Diggy.
“We are sincerely hoping that Waterford Township will fall in love with Diggy as much as the whole country has and let him stay,” the rescue posted.
Tillery and Diggy have since translated their struggle into music in their latest video.
While hearts and hopes are with Diggy and Tillery, we’re happy to report a happy ending to a similar story. Even after Isis, a 2-year-old pit bull, saved her owner Jaime in a domestic violence dispute, her town of Hazel Park, Mich. was intent on enforcing a law labeling the breed as dangerous, and either kicking them out of town or placing Isis in a shelter. But after the town rallied behind this dog, the town of Hazel Park has decided to lift its ban on pit bulls!
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