City Decides To Remove Newly Adopted Dog Despite Family’s Efforts To Keep Him

City Decides To Remove Newly Adopted Dog Despite Family’s Efforts To Keep Him

Update, June 27, 2016: Waterford Township has decided to go forward with its efforts to remove Diggy from town, and from his family.

Here’s the grim note that Detroit Dog Rescue posted to Facebook on Monday:

Sadly, after we fulfilled the requirements by having a Waterford Veterinarian determine Diggy’s breed as American Bulldog, it is still not good enough.

Diggy’s owners said the city is skeptical to believe veterinarians now, because they think any vet would just want Diggy to stay in a good home.
So, Waterford is sticking behind their original order and wants Diggy out of Waterford. Dan, Diggy’s owner, obtained legal representation and Detroit Dog Rescue will be there to help every step of the way. We are extremely disappointed in this decision and feel we have fulfilled every request of the city, even before Diggy’s adoption.

A hearing has been set for August 11, in Waterford’s District Court, according to The Oakland Press.

“Don’t worry, Diggy is safe at home with me and his momma,” Diggy’s dad Dan Tillery posted to Facebook. “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.”


Update, June 14, 2016: A veterinarian who examined Diggy says he is an American Bulldog, reports a local ABC affiliate. The hope now is that this finding will convince Waterford Township officials to let the dog stay with his family.

That’s our hope, too. We also hope that this entire incident will help show the folly of banning dogs based on how they look — or their breed — rather than based on their individual behavior.

Update, June 12, 2016: Detroit Dog Rescue’s Kristina Millman-Rinaldi tells BarkPost that Diggy is still safe at home with Dan. Kristina plans to talk with Waterford Township officials on Monday, and should have more information then about likely next steps.

In the meantime, as of Sunday afternoon, this online petition, asking for Watership Township to repeal its breed ban, has more than 42,000 signatures. It’s small comfort for Diggy and his family — but if nothing else, at least the township is now learning now much opposition there is to the law that threatens to separate them.

Update, June 10, 2016: This joyful story has taken a horrible turn, because of an unjust law.

Soon after news spread about Diggy’s wonderful adoption, the police came to Dan Tillery’s door, demanding to examine his dog.

Waterford Township, the Detroit-area town where Dan and Diggy live, has a ban on Pit Bulls—or, more specifically, dogs who “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or American Pit Bull Terriers.

CBS reports that “’based on their visual inspection’ alone, two officers concluded Diggy was a pit bull, according to the Detroit Dog Rescue, and told Tillery he would have to get rid of the dog.”

There is ample evidence that Pit Bull bans and other breed-specific legislation do not increase public safety, and cause tremendous harm to those who are affected.

On top of that, research shows that it’s just about impossible even to identify a Pit Bull — meaning a dog who is one of the types of terrier ordinarily thought of as belonging to that classification — merely by visual identification, without genetic testing. (And, in fact, the city had allowed Dan to register Diggy as an American Bulldog, prior to deciding that he was banned.)

Just to make things more confusing: most dogs called Pit Bulls are really just blocky-headed mutts, and we don’t know what their genetic makeup is, or if they “substantially conform” to the breed standards for the types of terriers listed above. In ordinary use, the term Pit Bull is really just a physical description, rather than indicating that a dog belongs to a particular breed — Waterford Township’s breed ban is more specific in its definition of what dogs are Pit Bulls.

We know; it seems arbitrary that Diggy could be called a Pit Bull, meaning a mixed breed dog who resembles a Pit, and at the same time it’s impossible to say if he is a Pit Bull under Waterford Township’s definition without genetic testing—one more reason that Pit Bull bans make no sense.


The only thing we know about Diggy from looking at him, is that he loves his family—and it would be wrong and cruel to take him away.

Detroit Dog Rescue is contesting the city’s determination, according to CBS, and Dan is asking supporters to sign an online petition, asking for Watership Township to repeal its breed ban.

We are hopeful they will be successful.

*** Original story ***

Detroit-based musician Dan Tillery and his girlfriend Megan just bought their first house. The first order of business, once the boxes were unpacked, was to go adopt a dog.

“We can get our pup now!” Dan tells us.

The couple spread the word around that they were looking for a big white blockheaded goofball.

Someone exactly along the lines of Sir Wiggleton here.


Sir Wiggleton is a lucky boy. He is a former stray who landed in Detroit’s city shelter a few months ago. That’s where Kristina Millman-Rinaldi found him.

Kristina is executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, the city’s only no kill shelter. She’d been at Detroit Animal Care and Control  collecting a dozen dogs to become part of DDR.

Sir Wiggleton wasn’t on the list of dogs Kristina was there for. But dog rescuers have soft hearts. Once Kristina saw the boy boy in his small kennel, she couldn’t leave him behind.

“He wanted out so bad he was defeated and sad,” she says. “I said we’ll take him too. Honest to god he was the last one on the truck.”


At DDR’s shelter, Sir Wiggleton made a big impression on staff and volunteers. But he kept getting overlooked by potential adopters.

Last week, Kristina posted his cute picture to Facebook, with the description that he is “a 2 year old American Bulldog/Pit Bull mix that loves the water and is just a big goofball.”

“Ten people tagged me,” says Dan. “He just looks like he fits.”


The adoption was finalized on Monday. Dan and Megan came to the shelter, and joyfully retrieved their dog.

They’ve all three of them been beaming since — even when Sir Wiggleton, now named Diggy, got his welcome home bath.

“He won’t stop smiling,” says Dan, who thinks that Diggy is quickly realizing that this is where he lives now, this is his home.

Dan describes himself as the guy at the party who’s always rolling around on the floor with a dog. He can’t wait to include Diggy in all parts of his own life — see all the big goofy, doggy smiles to come.

Funnily enough, the only part of coming home Diggy seems to be confused by so far is Dan’s guitar.

Dan pulled it out and played a little on Monday. Diggy started barking.

That’s ok; Dan figures the dog probably hasn’t seen a lot of musical instruments before, realistically. He thinks he’ll probably get used to it.

Or maybe new recordings will just feature backup vocals by Diggy the dog. That’d be pretty good, too.

“He’s definitely going to be my partner in crime with music,” Dan says. “I want him to have the best life ever, and I think he’s off to a great start.”

Here’s where you can check out Dan Tillery’s work — with and without Diggy singing backup. 

Detroit Dog Rescue has lots more fantastic, smiling puppers looking for homes!

Featured image via Dan Tillery

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