A rescue dog whose smiling photo went viral this week after he was adopted by a Michigan musician may be forced to leave his forever home.
Waterford Township Police told Dan Tillery on Thursday that his new dog, Diggy, can't stay in the township because he looks like a pit bull and thus violates a longstanding ordinance barring pit bulls and pit bull mixes. But Tillery, a local musician from Waterford, says the pup is an American Bulldog.
Diggy was picked up as a stray earlier this year by Detroit Animal Care and Control, which classified the dog as an American bulldog. Detroit Dog Rescue, the only no-kill shelter in the city, pulled Diggy from the facility and put him up for adoption, according to ABC News’ local affiliate WXYZ.
Tillery and his girlfriend adopted Diggy this week after the nonprofit rescue group posted a photo of the canine. Diggy became an internet sensation after Tillery posted a photo of him smiling with his new four-legged friend, who was all smiles too.
"I just bought a new house and my girlfriend and I wanted a dog, so we went down to the rescue and fell in love with him," Tillery told ABC News on Tuesday.
Tillery obtained a Waterford Township dog license for Diggy on Wednesday, indicating that the pooch is an American bulldog. One of the veterinarians at Detroit Dog Rescue classified the dog as the same breed.
However, this contradicts the Detroit Dog Rescue's Facebook post last month that announced the pup for adoption. In the May 31 post, the rescue group identified Diggy, formerly named Sir Wiggleton, as a pit bull mix.
"Wiggleton is a 2 year old American bulldog/pit bull mix that loves the water and is just a big goofball," Detroit Dog Rescue wrote along with a photo.
Waterford police said if a veterinarian of their choosing can inspect Diggy and identifies him as a pit bull or pit bull mix, then the dog has to go. But if the vet deems Diggy to be an American bulldog or another permitted breed, then he can stay.
"We just want to enforce the ordinance," Waterford Township Police Lieutenant Todd Hasselbach told WXYZ on Friday. "If he's willing to go to the vet to get the dog looked at for us then that's fine too."
Tillery said he’s hopeful everything will work out.
"I will fight for him," the musician wrote on his official Facebook page on Friday. "He is my family."