Taking selfies with your pets has become the norm these days, with Facebook and Instagram leading the charge, along with cute pet contests, cat memes, and your average puppy Snapchat filter applied to your actual puppy. With this phenomenon being so normal nowadays, no one would think twice about posting a quick snapshot with their pet to Facebook. That’s what Dan Tilly had in mind when he posted a selfie with his newly adopted Pitbull. But what started off as an exciting way to show the world his newest member of the family, quickly became a nightmare that he never expected.
If you’re a dog lover, it can be difficult to understand how anyone can be afraid of such loving and affectionate creatures. But for some, when they see a dog coming down the road, the cross to the other side. Perhaps not a poodle or a Labrador, but there are certainly some breeds which have been given a bad reputation. One of these, is definitely the pit bull. Some people might make a point of moving away when they see one, and would never get one as a pet.
A loveable dog
This reputation is not exactly deserved, and the truth is, if you are a responsible owner who trains your pet properly, there is no reason why a pit bull shouldn’t be as lovable and friendly as any other kind of dog. But deserved or not, a pit bull is not a popular choice in a dog pet, which makes the story you’re about to read even sadder to hear. It’s about a guy called Dan Tillery, and his own pit bull pet.
No Dogs Allowed
Before Dan ever adopted his pet, he and his girlfriend had been hoping they would be able to add to their family with a dog of their own, but their landlord had not allowed any pets at all in the home. He told the Oakland Press, “my girlfriend and I have been wanting a dog forever, but the place we were renting would not allow dogs. We just recently purchased out first home. All ours. And dogs are allowed!”
What’s in a name?
When it comes to naming our pets, we all have our own opinions – especially for dogs. Many owners love to call their pooches by human names (Keith is our personal favorite), others like to use typical dog names such as Bones or Rocky, and there are other owners who just like to make up a completely unique name. That’s what the rescue center did when they took in Sir Wiggleton. However, there was method to their madness.
A funky wiggle
When the Detroit animal shelter found Sir Wiggleton, they needed to decide on a name that was really personal to him, and truly encapsulated his behavior and his mannerisms. After watching him for a few days, they finally found the perfect name – Sir Wiggleton. But where did this name come from? What caused it? Well, according to the shelter, the dog would often get incredibly excitable, which would result in a ‘funky’ wiggle of his rear end. Genius.
As soon as the couple started moving into their new home, they began the search for the right animal to join their family. As you can see, the couple are young and fun, and were looking for the right dynamic between them and any furry friend they took on. Dan knew it was a dog he wanted from the start, and when they met rescue pup Sir Wiggleton, it was love at first sight for the three of them. Could he be the one?
Supporting the Shelter
Sir Wiggleton was 2 years old when they found him, and he was an American Bulldog who seemed to be without a home of his own. He was wandering through the streets of Detroit, with no one to love him. He was reported as a stray, and moved to the local shelter. In time, if these dogs are not adopted, they are put down, as they can’t be looked after indefinitely. Luckily. Dan and his girlfriend got there soon enough to save him and bring him home.
Detroit Rescue Center
The Detroit rescue shelter for dogs is an incredible place where animals can find new homes, away from neglect and abandonment, and humans can find their new best friends. Without the shelter, who knows what would happen to all of these lost or unloved pets, who are confused and lonely away from the people they recognise and know. The shelter does amazing work, and it was no wonder that Dan went straight there to look for their new pet.
Changing his name
There was an instant love between Dan and his new dog, with Dan recognizing that Sir Wiggelton was absolutely the right pet for their family. He saw a photo of his new pet which was with his belongings, which showed him sticking his tongue out, waggling it around with a clear sense of humor. Dan couldn’t believe how cute he was! It was love. Just one thing had to change, his name! Dan rechristened his pet Diggy, and they went home.
Like most people of this generation, any new and exciting news is bound to be shared on social media. We all want our friends and family to see the cool things we’re doing with our lives, and as Dan is a musician, he is used to sharing things about his music online, and wanted to put up a post about Diggy joining their home. How could he have imagined that it would go so horribly wrong when he chose to post Diggy’s photo?
A call from the police
But not long after he started posting photos of himself with the adorable Diggy, Dan realised that someone had done something peculiar. After seeing his social media posts, they had picked up the phone and called the police. Dan was astounded, what on earth could be the reasoning behind calling the police about a guy and his new super-cute canine? Dan was about to find out why the Police were getting in touch, and it would be even more of a shock…
An anonymous complaint
It was one photo in particular which had led this anonymous someone to call the cops. One of Dan smiling with Diggy, a cute selfie, just like this one where Dan was wearing sunglasses and Diggy was happily panting at the camera. The photo he posted looked totally innocent, and was an adorable snap which anyone might have shared, so happy about finally having a pet after wanting one for so long. So what could cause a negative reaction on looking at this photo?
The importance of rescue shelters
Perhaps it wasn’t the photo itself, it could be the caption underneath. Under the photo, Dan had credited the animal shelter, to show other people how important it is to adopt rescue dogs and save them from perhaps being put down if they stay there too long. He wanted other people to think about perhaps doing the same amazing thing, rescuing a dog from a shelter and giving them a new and safe home to call their own.
The photo was initially very popular, being shared by the rescue shelter, and attracting over 24 thousand likes in just one day alone! Dan even got media attention, phone calls from newspapers and other media outlets to cover the story of him and Diggy. Other messages came in too, from dog lovers or animal rights activists, who wanted to speak to Dan and hear about his rescue pup. It was crazy! Amid all this happiness, what could be upsetting people?
The incriminating photo
Here is the photo which was shared itself, with Dan grinning and Diggy beaming too. The post read, “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!” Almost immediately, likes loves and shares began pouring in, beating even Dan’s own expectations.
A winning scenario
Dan was delighted! A win-win scenario, his own Facebook post had gone viral, and the attention which the shelter was sure to get was also a fantastic extra! What could be bad about that? A knock at the door from the boys in blue was going to change his mind about that. It was only a couple of days later that the police showed up, explaining why they had to pay Dan a visit at home, regarding his Facebook post and photo. Dan was confused, to say the least.
Pit Bull attacks
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of attacks made my dogs on small children or even adults. Did you know that the majority of these attacks are done by pit bulls? In fact, in 2016, there were 41 attacks by dogs which ended up with the victim dying, and of those attacks, 22 were from a pit bull. I’m sure you’re beginning to see why pit bulls, more than other breeds and types of dogs, are given such a bad name by the public.
Some say pit bulls are actually naturally aggressive, and there is nothing you can do to calm them down or train this violence out of them. Some owners have had to part with their beloved pets for exactly this reason. Pit bulls were historically bred to be baiting dogs, and perhaps that explains why they are not inclined towards violence and perhaps a more dangerous breed than many others. Did Dan know all of this when he got Diggy from the shelter?
The police have bad news
Either way, when the township’s police department saw the photos of Diggy online, they couldn’t just sit by and do nothing. They were somehow frightened for the safety of the residents of the town, and they felt like they had a legal responsibility to do something about it. Looking in the towns bylaws, they found a solution, and went right round to Dan’s home to talk to him about Diggy. And the news was far from good.
Diggy had to go
They told Dan and his girlfriend that Diggy could no longer live with them in their home, despite him being a rescue dog and having nowhere else to go. In fact, they said that the rules of their town, Waterford Township said that residents could not own pit bulls, or even a dog which had been crossed with a pit bull in their homes. The rules were, return Diggy to the shelter, or face serious legal consequences for breaking the law.
Dan was shocked, and almost a bit amused by the whole thing. Legal consequences? Surely the police men were not being serious here. He said that the policemen met Diggy and even seemed to like him. “When they went to the gate [to] actually see him, he licked their face, was very kind,” Dan explained. “They said, we’re dog lovers, that’s cool, he seems like a good boy. Took some pictures of him.” Surely they weren’t going to follow through on their threat?
Checking his papers
Just in case, Dan went to take a look at the adoption papers, to see if anything there could help his case against the town. Sure enough, the adoption papers cited that they had adopted an American Bulldog, not a pit bull. He was sure that by showing these papers to the police, they would drop the case entirely, and allow Diggy to continue to live in his new home with his adoring parents. But sad to say, Dan was in for a nasty shock.
It looks like a pit to me
The police frankly didn’t care what the adoption papers from the shelter said, they thought that Diggy looked enough like a pit bull for them to write him up as one. Lt. Todd Hasselbach who works in the Waterford Township police department even said it frankly, “It looks like a pit to me,’’ he said, “I’d write a ticket.” Dan just stood there holding the papers which proved otherwise, in utter disbelief at what was happening.
Social media superhero
But remember, Diggy is a social media superhero! With all of those likes and shares, the public were not going to take this lying down. With a huge backlash from the online community, Dan and his girlfriend’s friends, as well as all the fans of the animal shelter, people began to protest the rule, insisting that Diggy was a bulldog, a friendly and loveable furry animal, and he should not be taken away from Dan and their home together.
The official statement came from the Chief of the Police at Waterford Township, and it was about as cold as you can imagine a reply being. His name is Scott Underwood, and he said to the press who were covering the story, “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.” They weren’t budging, and it put Dan in a hopeless position.
Possible Jail time
How far was this going to go? Dan loved Diggy and couldn’t imagine sending him back to the shelter. What if he didn’t get adopted again? But he was being faced with a fine of as much as $500, and perhaps even jail time over keeping his beloved new pup. He was so conflicted, but eventually it seemed like the only thing he could do was return the dog to the shelter, and try to get over this injustice. But was he about to get a last-minute miracle?
Support from strangers
The online community was still in shock that this was going to happen to Dan, all over a photo which had gone viral and done some helpful awareness for the rescue charity shelter. They wanted to do anything they could to help, as Dan had not done anything wrong whatsoever. As Dan worried about whether to go to court, or whether to return Diggy, the public took action. They started a petition to help Dan, here are some of the comments.
Hoping for change
Not only this, but the people who supported Dan wanted to make some real change, so that this could never happen to any other dog owners in the future either. They began to attack the very law itself, which said that pit bulls could not be kept as pets. Sure, Diggy was an American Bulldog, but what about other harmless pit bulls who were friendly and loved and needed a safe home? Surely they should not be forced out of their safe places because of a discriminatory law?
I’m not a quitter
All of the immense support which Dan had begun to receive gave him the strength he needed to keep fighting this case, until the very end. He went on social media to thank everyone for their support, “My lawyer and I are going to do everything possible to make sure Diggy stays in his home with us, his family.” he said, “Thanks for all of your support, guys. I’m not a quitter.” Dan was heading to court to save his pet.
One hundred thousand people
Meanwhile, the support for the online petition was growing. Dan couldn’t believe his eyes when he refreshed the page and saw that one hundred thousand people had taken the time to sign the online form in support of Diggy staying at home, and other owners of pit bulls and other breeds similar not having to go through this. The publicity in the media certainly helped get more names on the petition but would it be enough?
A real rollercoaster
Dan was probably pinching himself that any of this was actually happening to him. He and his girlfriend had just gone to the shelter like any other couple looking for a new pet. And from the excitement he had felt finding Diggy, to the love they shared, and the fun reaction to going viral followed by this fear and confusion since the police entered the scene… it was a true rollercoaster of emotions for anyone to handle.
A beloved pup
Throughout all of this, the rescue center had been absolutely on Dan’s side, hoping to keep his beloved pup with him, and to help other pit bulls and cross breeds who needed a home. Kristina Rinaldi was the director of the center, and she said, “People had really invested their emotions into this story, and it’s beautiful to see so many people care about rescue dogs.” Along with everyone else, she wanted a happily ever after for Diggy.
The police station were not about to give in without a fight. They had dug their heels in on this issue, and they probably didn’t want to look foolish by letting it go. It took a lot of back and forth, and plenty of debate, but eventually… the news was beginning to turn positive! First off, the court dismissed the police case against Dan, and Diggy was allowed to go home with his owner. You can imagine the relief that the couple felt.
A good boy
Dan cheekily took to Facebook, which is where the whole issue had begun, to express his happiness and relief that Diggy was not going back to the shelter that day, and that they had won against the courts and the police system. “We get to keep our boy” he posted, “He’s a good boy.” These heartfelt words summed up everything he was feeling, that it would have been so unjust for such a good dog to be punished over some archaic laws.
A social media presence
It certainly helped that Dan Tillery was somewhat of a celebrity himself. He might not have been a huge star, but his music career gave him more of a social media following than your average dog lover. His Facebook page has 10,000 likes, he has more than 13,000 followers on Instagram, and he has almost 1,000 Twitter followers too. Here, he could ask for help from the public and get attention for his cause.
Fame helped his cause
You might have seen Dan as a musician in the past, or maybe you’ll look up his music after hearing this heartwarming story. He tours the country, performing his music in small and large places alike, and is known for having a pretty awesome presence on stage. This small bit of fame led to the next incredible outcome that came out of this heartwarming story.
Good news for all pit bull owners
After all of this struggle, the petition, the media attention, and of course Dan and Diggy’s case, he was able to help make changes to the laws themselves. From now on, residents in Waterford Township would be allowed to have pit bulls as pets! This was an amazing step forward, and something which so many people put their name towards achieving, which many thought they could never hope to do.
Come as a pair
After pushing through the injustice and finally winning their case, Dan Tillery and Diggy are now the best of friends. In fact, they come as a pair – and fans of both Diggy and Dan are always checking up on them on social media. This exposure is working wonders for Dan’s career. As he pushes forward with his musical career, Diggy is alongside him every step of the way, quite literally! Dan has now made musical merchandise with Diggy’s face on it.
Adventures of Dan and Diggy
As the story of Dan and Diggy continues to reach people from across the globe, Dan Tillery is continuing to use his social media presence to keep people informed of their adventures. To do this, he has coined the hashtag #theadventuresofdananddiggy and posts hundreds of photos of the two of them going about their daily life, as well as hilarious photographs of Diggy in unusual and weird places – like behind the wheel of a car!
Still got fans
Even after many months, Dan and Diggy still have fans that want to check up on their whereabouts. On every single Facebook post, fans and readers from across the world have commented, showing their support for the struggles and the problems Dan and his girlfriend have. They also congratulate Dan for looking after Diggy so well – as it is clear Diggy is having the time of his life with his new owner! We can’t wait to follow their story for even longer.
Loving your life
With Dan’s new found Facebook fame, it’s fair to say that he’s making the most of the extra followers. He often promotes his music and his band on social media and gives them the chance to book him. As a live musician, he prides himself on playing classical music, such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin. In his eyes, he has the best job in the world, because if you love your job, you never work a day in your life!
However, Dan is now using this fame to promote a new business venture. In December 2017, he will take a group of paying guests on a whirlwind trip to Costa Rica, with his business partner, Brandon Gugala. Together, Dan and Brandon will allow their guests to unplug from daily life and immerse themselves in a full exploration of music, relaxation, and traveling. This retreat will take guests to flowing waterfalls, beautiful beaches, epic surf and perfect yoga spots.
A new blogger
As his career takes off, and more and more people want to follow Diggy and his life, Dan Tillery decided to start his own blog. Every few months, he updates his blog with all of the latest music and Diggy news. He writes about his daily life, his achievements that month, photographs of Diggy and their adventures, and his latest career moves. In his latest post, Dan has updated his fans on the fact that he had been recording in the studio.
A popular website
Alongside his blog, Dan Tillery also updates his website regularly. One of the most popular aspects of this website is the ‘Video’ section. Here, Dan uploads professional and amateur videos of himself performing solo, or with his band. Many of these are promotional shots, whereas others have come from paid performances for TV shows and online web channels. In 2015, Dan performed in Nashville for the popular online video platform, Balcony T, which has had thousands of views.
A live performance
Ever since Diggy’s story went viral, Dan Tillery has become somewhat of a celebrity in Michigan. Because of this, people will travel from around the state to see him perform – and Dan is more than happy to oblige. On his website, he notes all of his performance dates in and around Michigan for the next month or so. He often performs at the same bars and restaurants and has built up an incredible fan following separate to Diggy’s fame.
Diggy the Wonder Dog
As for Diggy, we wonder how much he understood about the adventure that couldn’t have happened without him. From the hundred thousand people who signed a petition on his behalf, to his owner who loves him so much that he went to court for him. Not to mention the new laws which were changed because of his incredible personality and the might of social media. Nowadays, Diggy is somewhat of a celebrity in his own right!