Best Friends Blog

Diggy dodges breed ban, but unjust law still needs to be overturned

A few weeks ago we blogged about Dan Tillery, a man in Waterford, Michigan, who was facing the possibility of losing the dog he just adopted to that town’s nonsensical breed ban. Dan’s story received national headlines after Tillery’s post-adoption photo with his new dog, Diggy, went viral.

After thousands of comments, shares and likes later, Dan found himself in the position of potentially losing his new best friend, simply because of the way Diggy looked. Waterford officials saw the photo online and presumed that Diggy is a pit bull.

Waterford and 26 other communities in Michigan have a breed-discriminatory law and Diggy was caught in the crosshairs. Determined to keep his new family member, Dan fought the law and now appears to have won his case.

According to the Oakland Press, back in June Tillery was ticketed under the city’s dangerous-dog ordinance. However, Diggy’s adoption papers (and ultimately a local veterinarian) certified that he is in fact an American bulldog, which would make him OK to own under the law. But city officials denied that certification and Dan, determined to keep Diggy, took it to court. This week a judge ruled that Diggy is, in fact, an American bulldog and should be allowed to stay.

We’ve said time and time again that breed bans don’t work and here’s a perfect example. Not only is Diggy not being judged by his behavior (which is what should happen), the Waterford Police Department is relying on visual identification to guess if a dog is or isn’t a pit-bull-terrier-like dog under the ordinance. Now, after the city wasted a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to take away someone’s perfectly well-behaved dog, Diggy is exactly where he’s supposed to be — at home.

Breed bans don’t work — which is why we’re working right now in Michigan to try to pass a preemption law that would ban all breed discrimination in the state. The bill (SB 239) passed the Senate and had its first hearing in the House Local Government Committee last week. If you live in Michigan and your representative is on that committee, we’re asking you to speak up now by taking action here. If you live outside of Michigan, you can sign up to receive our action alerts here.

We’re thrilled with the outcome for Dan and Diggy, but other dogs in Michigan and elsewhere may not be so lucky. That’s why outlawing breed discrimination remains a priority for Best Friends.

Together, we can Save them All.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

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