The media is floored with several news stories about how dangerous pit bulls are as pets. As they are more prone to attach people, and sometimes even children. However owners of pit bulls know that if their dog is properly trained, their dog is not a menace to society. Unfortunately the breed have earned a bad rep. Dan Tillery dreamed of owning a dog for years and his wish was finally fulfilled! Just like most people, Dan took to social media to post selfies with his newly adopted dog. Dan, however, never really expected the kind of reaction he got for his picture. When it was posted, Dan didn’t know that the photo would become the reason why the dog he just adopted would be taken from him.
But, what could be seen in the picture that prompted a response so drastic that it led to a pet being taken out of its home and separated from its owner? Keep reading to find out the answer.
Always Wanted A Dog
Dan as well as his girlfriend had wanted to have a dog for some time and were excited when the opportunity presented itself. In an interview he recently had with the Oakland Press, Dan said, “[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.”
Soon after Dan moved into a new house with his girlfriend, they started looking for a new furry friend that could stay with them. Dan had always dreamed of getting a dog, and since the house they now live in allows pets, Dan saw it as the perfect chance to fulfill his dream. When the couple visited a shelter, they became smitten by a dog from a shelter. Hilariously, he was named Sir Wiggleton.
The 2-year-old American bulldog had been found wandering around the Detroit streets. Coincidentally, the couple also lived in Detroit. A person found the homeless dog and told the local shelter about him. The shelter took him in and he stayed there for a few months before Dan along with his girlfriend made a decision to bring the dog home.
The director of the Detroit Dog Rescue, a no-kill shelter, Kristina Rinaldi explained Diggy’s background even more. Occasionally rescue workers work hard to collect dogs from Detroit Animal Control. During a particular visit, the workers loaded 12 dogs into a van before Diggy caught the eye of Ms. Rinaldi. He was in one a kennel and just looked sad. All the volunteers wanted to give him a chance, however there was no more room in the van. That when Rinaldi loaded “Sir Wiggleton” into her own car.
Originally he was named Sir Wiggleton because of a “funky butt wiggle” that he would do when he was excited, Kristina Rinaldi revealed. The rescue workers made sure to give him his medical treatments and to help him socialize with the other dogs. They would often post pictures of him on their Facebook page, hoping that someone would be inspired to adopt him.
The instant connection between Sir Wiggleton and Dan was what told Dan he had found the dog he wanted to take home. Dan got a chance to see a silly picture of the dog with his tongue sticking out while looking very cute. Dan visited the shelter, picked up the canine, and brought the dog to his home. Sir Wiggleton was then renamed Diggy. Dan was extremely excited and things were seemingly going well. However, things took a turn for the worse.
Dan, who does music for a living, was overjoyed that he was able to bring his newly adopted dog home. Dan thought his dog was very cute, so he wanted all his social media friends to see Diggy’s face. He thought of sharing photos of Diggy online. This isn’t completely unusual, though, because it’s common to see pictures of new puppies being shared online by their owners. However, something unexpected happened when Dan did post the photos online.
There was an uncommon development after Dan began posting photos of his recently adopted dog. Somebody decided to tell on him and involved the police. What was going on? Why would a person call the authorities over an adorable dog with such a happy face? Dan was quite surprised about the news and he was all the more stunned to find out the reason behind the call to the police.
What could be seen in the picture that prompted the kind of reaction it got? The photo seemed perfectly innocent since it was just a selfie of Dan with his dog Diggy smiling. The two could be seen as if one was smitten by the other and vice versa and they looked like they were getting on well. So, where was this picture posted that it gave Dan a lot of negative attention?
The cute picture was shared on the page of the ‘Detroit Dog Rescue’ because Dan believed they should also get credit for taking care of Diggy while the dog was waiting to be adopted. He thought others should know that adopting a dog from a rescue brings so much joy. He also thought capturing the happiness in a photo would be one good way of showing it. As it happens, things don’t always turn out the way you want them to be.
After the infamous picture was posted by Dan, it began gaining attention immediately. The adorable photo was posted on the social media account of the Detroit Rescue. Within just one day, the picture got 24,000 likes! It got so popular that Dan started getting phone calls from the media as well as dog lovers all over the country. However, fame usually comes with criticisms. Soon, the people who didn’t really like the picture started making comments.
Dan uploaded a photo which became viral on Facebook and had the caption, “We know this photo is going to break the internet and we apologize, but we had to share. 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!” There was a deluge of comments that poured in as more and more people shared the photo and as it gained more attention.
Knock On The Door
Just like what most people feel when their post goes viral, Dan felt happy there were very many people who were talking about his picture. He thought the scenario was totally positive and he didn’t see any possible negative effects. However, that changed when a few days after the posting of the photo, the police showed up at Dan’s. Needless to say, Dan was extremely confused as well as concerned about the appearance of authorities at his house.
It appears that each time we watch the news, we see another story about a dog attacking an adult or even a child. More often than not, pit bulls are part of the equation. The dogs often cause permanent damage to the victim. At times, the attacks have proven to be fatal. However, what are the actual numbers for the attacks by pit bulls? In 2016, there were 41 fatalities due to a dog attack – 22 of which a pit bull was responsible for. The other deaths had been caused by German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Labradors and other kinds of dogs.
According to the information we have today, giving up of pet pit bulls by their owners is happening because the owners had no choice but to do so. The breed of their dogs was the reason. There are more talks about pit bulls than any other breed of dogs because pit bulls are often regarded as extremely dangerous. According to animal specialists all over the world, the history of pit bulls, as many of them were bred to be baiting dogs, is deemed to be the reason why they are more aggressive as well as violently inclined.
Dan’s photo went viral. It got so much attention that the town’s police department became aware of it. Officers showed up at Dan’s house but not to congratulate Dan on the viral photo. They came to tell him that laws in Waterford Township (where Dan lived) do not allow people living there to own a pit bull nor a dog whose breed is mixed with pit bulls. The police informed Dan that he had to choose between returning Diggy to where the dog came from and facing legal consequences.
A Good Boy
Dan thought the accusation was absolutely ridiculous and was sure that the police officers didn’t actually intend to continue with the punishment. He thought Diggy was kind and funny and he knew the authorities would also agree. Dan said, “When they went to the gate [to] actually see him, he licked their face, was very kind,” He explained to the station WWJ. “They said, we’re dog lovers, that’s cool, he seems like a good boy. Took some pictures of him.”
When Diggy was adopted by Dan together with his girlfriend, they got adoption papers that stated Diggy was an American bulldog. Dan and his girlfriend had been sure that when Diggy’s adoption papers would be shown to the authorities, the latter would see that they have made a mistake and leave the couple to continue living with Diggy. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. The two were definitely stunned upon hearing what the police department in their area said about their dog Diggy.
“We have the paperwork that says it’s an American Bulldog,” Tillery explained. Dan was right. The papers for Diggy’s adoption clearly said that the canine is a bulldog. He showed the police the papers but they didn’t change their mind.
“I told (one of the officers) that I was going to keep my dog and he gave me a citation.” They believed Diggy’s appearance was similar to that of pit bulls and Diggy must have been one even if his papers said otherwise.
What It Means
The citation Dan received is a civil infraction which can cost up to a $500 fine. Now that’s not pocket change! Dan was heartbroken, he did not want to lose Diggy under any circumstance.
“He wakes me up every morning licking my face,” Dan said. “Every neighbor that I’ve talked to about it has wanted to come over and play with and pet Diggy.” Even his neighbor’s kids come to play with Diggy, they give him treats and he gives them kisses. There is no way that Diggy is a violent dog! Dan was dumbfounded.
Ms. Rinaldi had spent a lot of time with Diggy and she even said he was no threat whatsoever. In fact, she described him as “the biggest goofball” who “loves everybody” and has “big slappy cheeks.” That sounds like an accurate description to us!
Lt. Todd Hasselbach of the local police department was quoted to have said, “It looks like a pit to me.” He continued to say, “I’d write a ticket.” Dan, the owner of the dog, couldn’t believe what happened. Everything was happening too quickly and it seemed like it was all out of his control.
Dan told the New York Post the following, “[The cop] said, ‘You know, we don’t really need much more than I think he’s a pit, and that’s enough . . . You have three days to have him out of your home’.” He was only given three days to be with Diggy. Then, Dan needed to give Diggy back.
Waterford Police Chief Scott Underwood issued a statement saying that his department received multiple complaints Diggy being in Waterford. That’s why he sent officers to Dan Tillery’s home, so they could inspect the animal. “The dog was presented to officers and based on their observations, it was determined the dog was part pit bull/pit bull terrier,” Underwood said.
Dan did admit that the officers were cordial and that he also didn’t take the citation personally. “I don’t think they have a vindictive edge against me; I think they have an ordinance and they have to enforce it,” Tillery said. I’m not sure I would react the same as Dan but hey, that just goes to show how good of a character he is.
Follow The Law
The major backlash came as no surprise. It was from both people who had liked the picture as well as groups that support animal rights. However, the police department in the area explained that what happened was them enforcing the law. The department’s chief, Scott Underwood, told the media, “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.”
Dan didn’t really have a choice. He, unfortunately, had to give up his dog or he would have been asked to pay $500, or even would’ve gotten jail time if he had chosen to keep his dog. The picture that went viral had been, at first, the reason why he was in this messy situation. However, it too was the thing that would help Dan out. People online got stunned by the fact that authorities had the ability to take away a person’s dog even if the dog did nothing wrong.
Thousands heard about the story of Dan and Diggy and they felt infuriated. Supporters started to organize an online petition to help Dan keep the four-legged friend he loves. As protesters were doing things to make sure Diggy gets to stay with his family, Dan also did his part and made preparations. He was determined to take the matter to court. Would this story have a happy ending?
Aside from organizing a petition that calls for allowing Dan to keep Diggy, supporters of the two had come up with other plans. They wished to get rid of the town’s rules against keeping pit bulls as pets, thus allowing Diggy to continue staying with Dan and ensuring dog owners would not need to face a difficult decision like this again. The supporters were of the opinion that not allowing the adoption of a dog because of its breed was unfair and they wished to have the laws changed.
An online petition received 54,000 signatures which urged the township to change its ordinance that bans pit bulls. “Please make our community safer by creating a dog ordinance that does not single out specific breeds,” the petition read. “We can make the community safer through dog ordinances that all dog owners have to follow, no matter what their dog looks like. Dangerous dogs are a problem. Irresponsible dog owners are causing the problem, and our laws should target the people.”
Even the Humane Society stepped in! “We’re against breed-specific legislation, and we’re hoping that places like Waterford Township will take a good hard look at it and repeal it,” said Ryan McTigue, a spokesman for the Michigan Humane Society. “A lot of places around the country have been repealing them because they’ve found them to be ineffective.”
Kristina Rinaldi, the executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, arranged the adoption of Diggy. When she heard what happened, she imediately went to the police station along with Dan Tillery. “I have Diggy’s paperwork from another municipality and a veterinarian,” Rinaldi said. They showed Diggy’s paperwork which says he is an American Bulldog, clearly there is not ban on his breed under Waterford’s ordinance.
Moreover Kristina Rinaldi added that the dog rescue first called Waterford before they arranged the adoption to 100% ensure that American Bulldogs were allowed. Tillery added that he even licensed Diggy as a bulldog before he brought him home. Surely they couldn’t still make Dan give up him now?
A Total Sweetie
Rinaldi also added, “Because Diggy has a blocky head and a big smile, he was automatically judged like he was dangerous and this is probably the sweetest dog you’ll ever know.” Dan hoped that the authorities would also see that. He couldn’t imagine life without Diggy.
Kristina Rinaldi really hoped for Dan and Diggy that a compromise could be met. “Diggy is living a great life with Dan,” Rinaldi said. “As the nation has seen, he has the best dog smile and is just a loving dog.”
Dan had the idea that winning the case would be easy since he knew that Diggy’s breed is not what people thought it was despite the fact that local police think Diggy appears to be one. On Dan’s page on social media, he posted “My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family.” He went on to tell everyone, “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.”
By The Thousands
Dan and his dog Diggy got support in an amount that was overwhelming. The story gained publicity and was able to gather one hundred thousand signatures online for the petition which calls support for Diggy’s case. What’s more, the supporters showed up at a gathering in town where discussion of the issue took place. Dan was in awe at the large number of people advocating for his pup and him, but was it enough to get him what he wanted – for Diggy to be able to stay?
Seeing an entire community united in support for a dog as well as his owner was very inspiring. The rescue’s director, Kristina Rinaldi, was quoted to have said, “People had really invested their emotions into this story, and it’s beautiful to see so many people care about rescue dogs.” Although it was amazing to see many people very interested in the situation Dan was in, would it be helpful for him in his plight to keep being Diggy’s owner?
After three days, deadline day, Dan posted the following message on his Facebook, “Because Diggy still remains at his home with us, I was issued a citation today. Diggy is safe and happy. We are cooperating with the Waterford Police. All we can do now is remain hopeful that this can be resolved soon. Diggy Thanks you all for your support.”
The Best News
Dan was heartbroken at the idea that he may have to give up the dog he loved over an accusation that wasn’t even true, so he did his best to be able to keep Diggy. Following a significant amount of to-and-fro communication with the police and after much debate, he finally received an answer. Dan finally got good news! The case was dismissed by the court and Diggy could keep staying with Dan!
Spread The Word
Dan had been so excited about the news that he made a Facebook post, which was how this entire situation started. Dan wrote, “We get to keep our boy, He’s a good boy.” Dan and girlfriend Megan didn’t only get to keep the dog they dearly loved, they also went further and had a hand in changing the rules of the township about keeping pet pit bulls.
All of the charges against Dan and Diggy were dismissed at the 51st District Court! This meant Dan and Diggy would never be separated ever again. That was music to both of their ears! But there was still more that Dan wanted to do. He and his girfriend enlisted veterinarians’ help to analyze a dog’s breed.
Kristina Rinaldi was almost as excited as Dan and Diggy at the news! “I’m overjoyed to know that Diggy will be spending the rest of his life where he belongs -with his family. I can’t thank Dan and Megan enough for loving him as much as we do at DDR,” she said. “I think the whole world loves Diggy! We, at DDR, are thrilled that we were able to help him find his way to a happy forever. Diggy’s road to forever was a combination of so many great people working together and that’s what rescuing dogs is all about.”
Fortunately, Dan Tillery was able to lead a campaign to support the return of his beloved dog Diggy to him. However, many ask whether he would have been able to do the same if he weren’t popular or famous. His page on Facebook has almost 10,000 likes. His Instagram followers total over 14,000. He has also almost 1,000 Twitter followers. Because of these, Dan had the ability to use social media to bring light to their situation and get the public’s attention.
“People had really invested their emotions into this story, and it’s beautiful to see so many people care about rescue dogs,” said Kristina Rinaldi, the director of the Detroit Dog Rescue, a no-kill shelter. Diggy’s story really inspired so many people.
Actually, Dan Tillery is an up-and-coming musician. Dan regularly goes on tours across the country, performing the music he creates in clubs as well as venues, and takes pride in his incredible stage presence. His vast presence on social media has enabled him to show the world the talent that he has. As he became more popular, Dan knew his fans had to be given something more, so in 2006, he recorded his first ever EP, ‘We Like To Have Fun!’ Nowadays, he uses his profiles on social media to promote the music he makes – and to post odd photos of Diggy!
As the world got wind of Diggy and Dan’s story, people from countries all over the world felt overjoyed to know that Diggy had been allowed to live with the adoptive family who loves and deeply cares for him. Dan is making use of social media to give the world updates about Diggy’s life. Actually, Diggy has turned into somewhat a celebrity himself. On October 2,2017, Diggy’s picture was posted by Dan. In it, Diggy can be seen together with Dan at the gym. Diggy’s fans wasted no time congratulating the two for their efforts. Nice work, Diggy!
Not The Only One
Falling in love with pit bulls, like other dogs, is so easy. Unfortunately this love can sometimes be considered illegal. Someone who knows this very well is famous British actor, Sir Patrick Stewart. His love for his adopted pit bull didn’t turn out exactly the way he wanted it to.
Adopting His Pup
It’s no secret to the public that Stewart loves his dog. I mean he did adopt her after all, but adopting a dog in need is not necessarily enough when it comes to the new BSL Ban in the U.K.
The BSL Ban
The BSL Ban (Breed Specific Legislation) is a law that forbids the ownership of specific types of dog breeds because of their vicious nature. So regardless of whether you believe your dog to be tame or not, authorities are legally entitled to take your dog away from you. The pit bull happens to be one of those dogs on the list.
Moving To The U.K.
When Patrick Stewart decided to move back to the U.K. he discovered that he would run into trouble with his precious canine. His next move was to see if there was some way around the law, which there was not. Stewart understood that he was forced to put his pup up for adoption once again. Not an easy decision by any stretch.
It may come as a surprise to some, but pit bulls have actually been favored by a fair amount of celebrities. Whether they think they’re “menacing” or “dangerous”, some Hollywood stars is not against the idea of having pit bulls as pets.
The Big Bang Theory star, Kaley Cuoco, is a big player when it comes to pit bull awareness. She has outright stated they are “the greatest dogs in the world,” and she obviously believes this seeing as she has adopted three of her own.
“Bowie”, as Jessica Alba affectionately called her beloved puppy, was named after the famous David Bowie. Even with her own young child in the house, she felt that having Bowie, and another dog by the name of “Sid” in the house, was safe enough. We should mention that Sid happened to be a pug, though. Sadly Alba lost both of her dogs in 2017.
In 2012, Friends‘ Rachel adopted her own mixed pit bull puppy with Justin Theroux, who was just her boyfriend then. They gave their family’s new addition the name of “Sophie” after Sophie’s Choice.
Hollywood’s Jessica Biel fell so madly in love with her pit bull, that she even created a special hashtag just for her. The hashtag was #TuesdaysWithTina, and she was sure to use it on a weekly basis on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.
What’s better for a gift than a doggy? Rachel Bilson was blown away when her former fiance, Adam Brody, gave her a pit bull for her birthday. “Penny Lane” became their only child, even when they broke up. But the good news is that they both were over the moon for her so they shared custody.
Did you know that Izzy from Grey’s Anatomy is a die-hard animal supporter? This can be clearly seen by her founding of the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation which promotes animal welfare. She decided to adopt a pit bull puppy from a shelter in California, and it was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
Alicia Silverstone is an angel when it comes to dogs and rescuing them. Out of the three dogs she has personally rescued, one of them is a pit bull. She has also created her own website called The Kind Life. Silverstone is a firm believer that pit bulls are simply misunderstood.
Designer Marc Jacobs owns a bull terrier who he is madly in love with. This is another dog on the BSL Ban list. But he doesn’t seem to care what others think. Take a look at his Instagram account and you’ll see what we mean!
American comedian and TV show host, Jon Stewart is father to three rescued pit bulls. Their names are Shamsky, Champ, and Monkey, and they’re as chuffed about him as he is about them. Did we mention that Champ happens to be a three-legged dog that Stewart picked up from Animal Haven, a non-profit shelter.
One Tree Hill actress, Sophie Bush, got in touch with Wags and Walks in order to save “Griffin”. Griffin was one of eight puppies that was destined for euthanization. Luckily for this kind-hearted human, Griffin joined Bush’s family of pit bulls.
Gisele Bundchen and former American footballer, Tom Brady, adopted “Lua” – a mixed pit bull. If there was ever a new reason we needed to love Gisele Bundchen!
It takes someone special to be a pit bull ambassador, and Kevin Bacon and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick are exactly that! The two of them adopted Lilly, and have participated in the campaign called #KissedByAPitt – a campaign that is raising awareness about pit bulls and their stereotypes.
Hunger Games star, Josh Hutcherson, adopted his own little three-month-old pit bull in 2012. He named his baby “Driver” after rescuing the pup from a shelter in Los Angeles. When he found her she had been suffering a broken leg for 11 days!
Who would be better company in the kitchen for celebrity chef, Rachael Ray, than a doggy? Her beloved puppy, Isaboo, is one lucky doggo, getting meals by a top chef. The truth is that Ray prefers to give her dog the best option – Nutrish.