For Dan Tillery and his girlfriend, adopting a dog from the local animal shelter was one of their goals as a couple. After months of searching, they ended up finding their dream dog, a sweet pit bull named Diggy. To say it was love, at first sight, would be an understatement. However, the couple never could have imagined that a simple dog rescue would set into motion a wild chain of events that would result in the police knocking on their door.
Thankfully, it only took a simple smile from a loving dog to turn everything around. You won’t believe this incredible story.
Alone in the World
Diggy’s life had a rough start. At only 2-years-old, he found himself living on the streets of Detroit, Michigan. Thankfully, Detroit Dog Rescue came to his aid, with the hopes of placing him in a no-kill shelter. Now all the dog needed was a loving home. But would anyone ever want him?
No Room At the Shelter
Sadly, Diggy’s luck didn’t turn around immediately. With an influx of stray dogs being taken into the shelter, there was no room for Diggy. One of the volunteers, Kristina Rinaldi, refused to let the poor pup be left alone in his cage and decided to take him home. She just knew there had to be a family that would be perfect for him.
Coming Out of His Shell
As Diggy settled into his new surroundings, he slowly began to come out of his shell. Rinaldi commented that he was a dog filled with pure joy and when he was happy he wiggled his butt in what they called his “happy dance.” However, she knew she couldn’t keep him. It was time to find him a home.
Sharing on Social Media
Despite Diggy being placed in a foster home, the Detroit Dog Rescue processed him like any other dog intake. They took multiple photos that they shared on Facebook, hoping someone would take an interest. Sadly, weeks turned to months and no one inquired about adopting the sweet pooch. How could anyone say no to such a sweet face?
Across town in an area known as Waterford Township, Dan Tillery, a local musician, was moving into his new home with his girlfriend. After renting for years without being able to have a dog of his own, he finally was going to have the chance to pick a pooch to share his life with. After visiting multiple animal shelters with no luck, Dan stumbled across the Detroit Dog Rescue’s Facebook page.
Love At First Sight
While searching the dog rescue’s timeline, Dan came across Diggy’s photographs. Immediately, it was love at first sight. The dog’s goofy grin and sweet demeanor captured the hearts of both Dan and his girlfriend. They knew time was of the essence and they quickly made the decision to open up their home to the sweet dog.
A Home for Diggy
Dan and his girlfriend quickly inquired at the dog rescue about Diggy, and the rescue was thrilled to see their social media push had finally worked. However, Dan would have to bring the dog home for a trial run, which was required for all adoptions. Of course, the couple was up for the challenge. They knew they could provide a loving home for the precious pup.
The Perfect Match
The day of the home visit finally arrived and volunteers from the dog rescue brought Diggy to Dan’s home. To say it went well would be an understatement, the couple and the dog were a match made in dog heaven. Of course, Dan quickly signed the adoption papers.
Dan & Diggy’s Great Adventures
Diggy and Dan quickly found a groove. Diggy loved walking up to his new dad in the morning with licks to the face, and car rides were a real blast on the weekends. The excitement surrounding the dog was infectious and Dan with his girlfriend had never been happier.
Unfortunately, things were about to take a terrible turn.
Documenting the Fun
Like most people, Dan loved to share his daily adventures on Instagram. He flooded his social media with pictures of Diggy and all of the fun they had. The Detroit Dog Rescue loved seeing all of the updates and began to share Diggy’s photos on their personal page as well.
Sadly, this had some unexpected consequences.
Social Media Celebrities
One photograph that the Detroit Dog Rescue shared of Dan and Diggy eventually went viral and was liked by over 24,000 people. This led to the Good Morning America even covering the photo in one of their segments. And while the photograph just pictured a man with his very happy dog, some people took it the wrong way.
You won’t believe what happens next.
A Knock on the Door
Unknown to Dan and his girlfriend, the photograph had been reported to the Waterford Township police department. Apparently, Dan was breaking the law and something had to be done about it. Therefore, one unsuspecting evening, the couple received a hard knock on their door.
Dan was surprised to find the police waiting for him. They informed him they had been tipped off thanks to the photograph that was shared on social media. Of course, Dan was confused. How could anyone think anything negative about a sweet smiling dog? However, the police informed him that he had violated the law and there would be consequences.
What did Dan do?
According to the police officer, Waterford Township had a strict ban on pit bull breeds, a regulation that had gone into effect in 1990. Due to the reputation of pit bulls being super aggressive, the town had made it a rule no one could own them. Therefore, Dan was violating this rule. Dan was floored. Diggy had never shown any signs of aggression and was the happiest boy.
What would happen next?
Hoping to convince the cops that Diggy wasn’t a threat, he invited them in to meet the pup. Diggy immediately greeted the officers with a big smile and licks to their faces. The police were shocked by his friendly response, but sadly this did not change the law. Something had to be done about the dog.
Surrender or Face the Consequences
The police told Dan that he had to surrender Diggy to the proper authorities or face the consequences of his actions. Of course, Dan refused. There was no way anyone was going to take his dog away. Diggy had become a part of the family. But what could he do? The police gave him a quick deadline of just a few days. Now, Dan had to figure out how to save the new member of his family.
Refusing to Comply
Dan had no intention of following through with surrendering Diggy and the deadline came and went. However, the police issued a citation stating he had violated their pit bull ban. Refusing to give up on his dog, Dan teamed up with Rinaldi from the Detroit Dog Rescue to fight his case. They headed down to the police station to hopefully reason with them but were shocked by what they discovered.
The Police Refuse to Budge
Pleading his position to the police fell on deaf ears. They told him he was in complete violation of their ban and would be fined $500 for his refusal to surrender Diggy. However, Dan had some information he’d discovered that would change the entire scenario.
You won’t believe this…
It seemed that Diggy wasn’t even a pit bull! Despite the similarities in features, Diggy was actually an American Bulldog. Rinaldi produced the adoption papers to prove it, but the police remained firm in their position. They fined Dan and issued a citation. Furious, Dan refused to take the situation lying down.
Taking to social media, Dan revealed his current situation with Diggy. His followers were outraged by what was happening and Dan drafted a petition to not only keep his precious pooch but get rid of the ban completely. The claim that pit bulls were violent in nature had no documented proof. Bad owners create bad dogs, it was that simple.
Thankfully, the petition was a success and received over 54,000 signatures.
Kristina Rinaldi from the Detroit Dog Rescue also came to the couple’s aid, providing proof that she had checked with the local ordinances that they accepted American bulldogs. The adoption papers even revealed Diggy’s breed as an American Bulldog, and despite that not matter to the police, it proved that Dan and his girlfriend had not broken any laws.
A Successful Town Hall
A local town hall meeting was called regarding the controversy surrounding Diggy, and Dan along with his girlfriend was shocked to see hundreds of people show up in support. Even the Detroit Dog Rescue and Michigan Humane Society came through, offering up facts and statistics regarding dog breeds and violence.
Now, all Dan could do was wait and see. He had done everything he could do to fight his case.
The Taste of Victory
Thankfully, Dan’s hard work paid off. In September of 2016, his case was dismissed. Diggy could stay in his loving home! Even better, the Waterford Township removed the ban on pit bulls thanks to the support of the local community.
Now, Dan and Diggy can enjoy many more adventures together in peace. We wish them both the very best!