The law and a viral photo could separate a Waterford man and his beloved new canine companion.
Waterford Township has an ordinance banning ownership of pit bulls, and they enforce it, Waterford Police Sgt. William Dolehanty says.
It all began when Detroit Dog Rescue, a pet rescue that specializes in saving stray pit bulls or pit bull mixes, posted an image showing Dan Tillery, a Waterford man, and his newly adopted dog, an American bulldog, according to Detroit Dog Rescue.
According to Detroit Dog Rescue, the dog -- called Sir Wiggleton by Detroit Dog Rescue and renamed Diggy by his new owner -- spent 100 days in a shelter before being adopted.
As of Friday morning, the post showing the dog and his new master had been shared more than 6,000 times with 27,000-plus "likes."
While the Internet cheered the union, Waterford Township police did not.
"Approximately around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, the Waterford Township Police came to the home of Dan Tillery asking to see his rescue dog Sir Wiggleton – who was pictured in a photograph with his new master as the smiling dog happy to be adopted that went viral on Facebook and nationally from Good Morning America, Yahoo, People Magazine and ABC News, as a result of phone calls alleging the dog is a Pit Bull and therefore violates city ordinance and is prohibited by Waterford Township," Detroit Dog Rescue said in a statement issued early Friday.
"Waterford Township Police Officers Jack Sutherland and Dwayne Warner were dispatched to Dan Tillery's home to investigate and determine if Sir Wiggleton was a pit bull, and based on their visual inspection they concluded he was a pit bull."
As of Friday morning, Dolehanty said he was looking into the case and had received multiple calls from media.
"Sounds like whatever this incident on the dog at least having part pit, it went viral," he said. "I'm anticipating several more phone calls."
Dolehanty wasn't immediately sure how the situation would be handled, but said the township has enforced removal of dogs before under its pit bull ordinance.
Detroit Dog Rescue was planning a press conference to discuss the issue Friday afternoon. The owner of the dog in question is expected to attend.
The Waterford ordinance says that because of "increased urbanization and population density," it's necessary to protect citizens from certain animals, including pit bulls, which the law says were bred for "fighting or baiting."
Many pit bull lovers vehemently dispute that perception of the breed, but it's the law in Waterford.
The definition of a pit bull is a vague one, but the township defines a pit bull using a set of physical characteristics provided by the American Kennel Club.
While Diggy and the American bulldog breed may have traits that fit the township's definition, Detroit Dog Rescue disagrees on the classification.
"Mr. Tillery, who earlier this week had registered and obtained a proper license from Waterford Township, explained Sir Wiggleton is an American Bulldog and not a pit bull with supporting adoption papers from Detroit Dog Rescue, City of Detroit Animal Control & Welfare and their veterinarian, who all confirm Sir Wiggleton's breed," Detroit Dog Rescue says.