When one pet owner posted a selfie with his dog online, the image soon went viral. However, it also attracted some unwanted attention, and as a result, days later, police arrived to take the animal away.
Dan Tillery is a musician who lives in Waterford Township, Michigan. In June 2016 he had just purchased his first home with his girlfriend, Megan. And, after unpacking their belongings, the first thing the couple did was look into adopting a dog.
“[My girlfriend and I] have been wanting a dog forever, but the place we were renting would not allow dogs. We just recently purchased our first home. All ours. And dogs are allowed,” Tillery explained to the Oakland Press in June 2016.
Subsequently, then, Tillery headed down to Detroit Dog Rescue, and that’s where he first fell in love with Sir Wiggleton. The two-year-old American bulldog had been at the shelter for nearly 100 days after he was found stray in Detroit, Michigan.
Tillery knew Sir Wiggleton was the one for him in an instant. A sweet photo of the dog with his head cocked and tongue hanging from his mouth won the musician over. So Tillery decided to adopt him and to rename him Diggy.
Diggy was Tillery’s first dog, and the animal lover was understandably excited to take him home. As a result, he began snapping selfies with the dog to share with friends. But one image he captured was cuter than he could have ever imagined.
In it, both Tillery and Diggy sport humongous grins across their faces. It appears that the dog’s new life had made both of them happier than ever. So Tillery decided to share the snap with Detroit Dog Rescue to highlight the benefits of adopting pets.
And it didn’t take long for the image to go viral. On the shelter’s Facebook page, it soon clocked up 24,000 likes, and before long, Tillery and Diggy found themselves in the center of a media storm.
“We know this photo is going to break the internet and we apologize, but we had to share,” read the caption beside the image. “After almost 100 days in the shelter, Sir Wiggleton just got adopted. Sir Wiggleton and his new Dad are celebrating adoption day with huge smiles all around!”
At first, the awareness that he and his beloved dog had created thrilled Tillery, but the image soon attracted some unwanted attention. Yes, just days after his selfie went viral, Tillery received a visit from the Waterford Police Department.
Officers accused Diggy of being part pit bull, and as such, he would be unable to live with Tillery in Waterford Township. The area had a ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes as it considers the breed to be “dangerous dogs.”
However, by meeting Diggy, Tillery was convinced that they would realize the dog was not dangerous at all. “When they went to the gate [to] actually see him, he licked their face, was very kind,” Tillery told WWJ in June 2016. “They said, we’re dog lovers, that’s cool, he seems like a good boy. Took some pictures of him.”
But despite the fact that Diggy’s adoption papers said he was an American bulldog, based on their visual inspections, officers concluded that the dog was, in fact, a pit bull. As a result, they gave Tillery three days to remove Diggy from his home.
Although animal lovers might struggle to understand their point of view, police said that they were just doing their job. “From our standpoint, it’s a pretty clear case of an ordinance that makes it clear what’s permissible and what’s not. Our job is to enforce the ordinance,” Waterford Police Chief Scott Underwood told the Oakland Press.
It seemed Tillery had little choice but to get rid of Diggy or else face a $500 fine. But, thanks to the dog’s popularity, their plight soon made headlines. Moreover, the fact police could forcibly remove an innocent dog from their owner in such a way outraged many.
So while Tillery prepared for a formal hearing on the matter, members of the public established an online petition. In it, they called for officers to lift the pit bull ban and allow Diggy to stay with Tillery.
Meanwhile, Tillery started working on his case to keep Diggy. “Don’t worry, Diggy is safe at home with me and his momma,” he posted online. “My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family. Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”
Little did Tillery know, however, that his battle would last a total of three months. Town officials stood by their findings that Diggy was a pit bull and was therefore illegal. Eventually, the case culminated with a town meeting in September 2015.
By this point, the petition to save Diggy had attracted more than 111,000 signatures. Happily, after a heated debate, officials dismissed the case against the dog, and Tillery could take Diggy home for good.
At last, Tillery and his girlfriend could give Diggy the life that they had dreamed of. And the victorious musician couldn’t resist posting a celebratory update on his Facebook page. “We get to keep our boy,” he wrote. “He’s a good boy.”