Another Heartbreaking Story Shows Why Breed-Specific Bans Make No Sense

Diggy spent almost 100 days looking for a home at Detroit Dog Rescue before Dan Tillery came in looking for a dog. When the two met, it was friendship at first sight, followed by an adoption and the happiest photo ever to document it. The two — human and dog — were smiling so wide that the photo went viral, but while most people were celebrating the adoption, Waterford Township turned the fairytale ending into a nightmare.

Citing a pitbull ban dating back to 1990, officials showed up at Tillery’s house to look at the new four-legged tenant and see if he was legally allowed to live in the town.

“They asked if he’s a friendly dog, I said he’s the friendliest dog,” Tillery told the local press. “When they went to the gate to actually see him, he licked their face, was very kind. They said, we’re dog lovers, that’s cool, he seems like a good boy. Took some pictures of him.”

After this visual inspection, officials then determined Diggy was indeed a pitbull mix and Tillery had three days to get him out his home.

The rescue organization who made Diggy’s match, stepped up showing with his papers, that the dog was not a pitbull but an American Bulldog. According to Dr. Julie Levy, professor at the University of Florida’s Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, Waterford Township’s officials wouldn’t be the first to incorrectly identify a dog as a pitbull mix because of its appearance.

“Most people think they can identify a dog just by looking at the animal but we’ve proved most times they make a mistake,” Levy says of the results of a recent study in which 16 shelter workers and veterinarians from animal shelters across Florida were asked to identify the breed of 120 different dogs.

After running DNA tests on all the dogs, the study showed that dogs who did not have any pitbull heritage were mislabeled as pitbulls up to 48 percent of the time. Another of Levy’s studies asked 5,000 dog experts, including breeders, trainers, groomers, veterinarians, shelter staff, rescuers and others to identify 100 different dogs via a survey. Respondents guessed the correct breed only 27 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, residents, outraged by the developments, crowded the latest Waterford Township meeting asking for the breed specific ban to be lifted since there’s no evidence that pitbulls — or any other breed — are more aggressive than others.

“It’s not possible to generalize,” explains Levy. “Within each breed you’ll have a range of behaviors. There are some violent dogs and there’s a great majority of them who are friendly and make great pets.”

Levy adds pitbulls’ bad reputation is likely a result of their use in dog fighting “even though most of them will never fight and are loved pets in homes across the country.”

To this day, 19 states have rejected breed-specific bans like the one in Waterford County and more than 68,000 people have signed a petition asking the township to follow suit.

Tillery and Diggy’s case will be resolved in court in the next 10 days.

Photo Credit: Detroit Dog Rescue

96 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Mark Donner`
Mark Donner2 years ago

Anne Moran: how do you even know it was a pitbull, since they mistake the breed half the time. It could have been a freaking German Shepherd which also is involved in its fair share of attacks. And guess why these attacks happen? Because of the freaking owners and the way the freaking humans bring up dogs. To blame a breed is like saying all blacks are genetically programmed to commit crimes.

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Stupid BSL.

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Coll Prin
Coll Prin2 years ago

pitty daxton's friends exist as propaganda for breed bans

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O O.
O O2 years ago

Call or contact BEST FRIENDS IN UTAH because they fight BSL.

Good luck on fighting this crazy and insane ban!!!

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Anne Moran
Anne M2 years ago

Kate Kenner - Guess what,, - another victim of a pitbull today, June 20th, in our province B.C. ,, - a 65 year old woman was attacked as she was walking down the street.. - She is luckier than the one in Montreal,, who was mauled to death a couple of weeks ago,, as this one will live... - BTW,, that 55year old woman who was mauled to death, by that killer pitbull, was just sitting in her backyard, reading a book, and minding her own business, when she was attacked and KILLED... - Go and tell her family how great pitbulls are,, and see what they think/say...

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Nan Towle
Nan Towle2 years ago

(last part of post thanks)
The fate and well being of a beloved, loyal and ever faithful family member companion dog, deserves better than a mere glance of someone who doesn't know what they don't know! There is no reason on earth for these biased, regressive and ignorant BSL "laws". Its time long overdue to hold people ( bad owners, abusers, and self interested political legislators, accountable for their actions or lack of).
Many places have already removed these laws noting that they were total mistakes.
Waterford Township needs to not only do the same, but also replace current town officials who are clearly not up to their jobs. Surely the good people and all the beloved companion animals deserve better.

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Nan Towle
Nan Towle2 years ago

(post continued thanks) It seems that no matter how perfect a canine citizen you have, such as therapy dogs, PTSD dogs, it doesn't matter. It doesn't seem to matter if someone instigated a problem, the dog gets blamed. These despicable, short sighted, sloppy, lazy "laws", penalize the majority of good owners and dogs by creating a housing problem as to where they can live as well as the ability to get insurance. These laws benefit insurance companies whose only interest is their bottom line. These are vacuous, vapid, unintelligent "laws" that are not real laws as they do not take each individual and case on its on merit. They are a one size fits all no-mind decrees that bureaucrats and town or city officials use to justify broad over reach with no real substance.
The fear and hysteria that is over sensationalized by the media on a 24/7 loop has helped to create the disgusting and despicable dynamic for BSL. It is incredible to me how little you hear of the amazing, selfless, brave and heroic actions of our dogs. You only hear the tiniest percent of bad, over and over and over.
What we have is a bad dog owner problem that needs to be addressed. Dogs want to be good, they want to please us and love us unconditionally. They are the one species that lives to love us. It is high time we live up to their trust and love and protect them as we would a child who is also dependent upon us.
The fate and well being of a beloved, loyal and ever faithful family member compa

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Nan Towle
Nan Towle2 years ago

The Waterford Township officals decided to go back over 26 years, citing a 1990 pitbull ban to get one of the sweetest, friendlies dogs on earth who was originally saved and rescued and throw him out of his home because they think he "looks like" a pitbull. So, my question is, are they totally incompetent, insane, perhaps stupid, and have nothing better to do with their time on taxpayers money that to now go and create an issue where there was none? Whom are they going to witch hunt next?
A snap judgement so cavalierly made on the part of someone who knows nothing about an loving, devoted, trusting and ever faithful intelligent, sentient, emotional being whose life and well being hangs in the balance is wildly irresponsible, reckless and biased. BSL is unconscionable and dangerous. "Laws" like this are created as knee-jerk reactions in the hysterical over-reaction of a particular incident that instead of addressing that one incident, paint a whole population of wonderful, loving sweet and faithful companions and their responsible, conscientious owners with a broad brush and penalize them as well. This doesn't just have a light impact. These laws destroy lives, families, rip these family members from their homes impacting our already overburdened shelters, many end up being euthanized, for no good reason or explanation other than a label! It seems that no matter how perfect a canine citizen you have, such as therapy dogs, PTSD dogs, it doesn't matter. It doesn't see

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Chloe M.
Chloe M2 years ago

My first dog was a Pitbull and she was the sweetest thing. In miss her so much.

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