Police Say Smiling Dog In Viral Photo Must Leave Town
A sweet dog whose infectious smile went viral for all the right reasons is in the news once again - but this time for all the wrong reasons.
Diggy was adopted this week by his new dad, Dan Tillery of Michigan, after spending almost 100 days at the Detroit Dog Rescue animal shelter. Afterward, the shelter shared a photo of the happy pair grinning ear to ear as they began their new lives together - a heartwarming image that spread quickly on social media and in news headlines around the globe.
Unfortunately, not everyone was so pleased to know Diggy (formerly known as Sir Wiggleton) had finally found a home.
Just days after bringing Diggy back to Waterford Township where he lives, Tillery was contacted by local police. They had seen the viral photo and determined, based on the dog's appearance, that he is a pit bull - a breed explicitly prohibited under the city's code of ordinance.
On Friday, Tillery was told that Diggy must go.
"From our standpoint, it's a pretty clear case of an ordinance that makes it clear what's permissible and what's not, and our job is to enforce the ordinance," Police Chief Scott Underwood told the Oakland Press.
Tillery has reportedly agreed to move his new pet to a new location outside the township, albeit reluctantly.
There is still hope that Diggy can stay, however. Detroit Dog Rescue had classified him as an American bulldog, not a "pit bull" - which isn't even a breed but a loose category that can include several blocky-headed breeds and mixes - and the group is working to persuade police to reconsider their assessment.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, Diggy's story is calling to attention a bigger issue - that of breed specific legislation, or BSL. Pit bull-type dogs are often the focus of such discriminatory laws, based largely on the stereotype that they are "dangerous dogs."
In recent years, many municipalities across the country have done away with BSL, especially considering its ineffectiveness at improving public safety.
Thanks to Diggy's case, a petition has been launched to convince Waterford Township to follow suit.