‘The Walking Dead’ Petition to Save Daryl’s Dog Crosses 50,000 Signatures

More than 50,000 Walking Dead fans have signed a petition urging producers to spare Dog, pet and sole companion to woodsman Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).

The petition, launched last week, has gained traction as Daryl’s dog proved an immediate hit with fans after his introduction in 907, “Stradivarius.”

Dog has proved so popular some fans have since appropriated a catchphrase long associated with Daryl — “If Dog dies, we riot” — as viewers hope to avoid seeing the animal meet the same fate as Shiva, the beloved tiger companion of Kingdom leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton).

“Oh my gosh. I don’t know if I have the heart to kill the dog, man,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW, hinting at Dog’s survival despite his dangerous jobs, which have thus far included baiting walkers and leading a hunt for the missing Eugene (Josh McDermitt).

“When I started the show in season 2, I was also Team Daryl Should Have a Dog. It’s this thing that’s kind of been batted around for a long time, and it never happened. And to be honest, a dog would’ve died pretty quick during some of the seasons that they were in.”

Daryl came across Dog sometime during a six-year time skip after the apparent “death” of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), admitting to Carol (Melissa McBride) he retreated to a solitary life in the woods when his extended search to reclaim Rick’s body came up empty.

“So we were talking about, how can we show the state that Daryl’s in? And I thought that it would be great that he’s been off for a while after Rick’s presumed death. Daryl just went off,” Kang said.

“And Daryl is somebody who hunts and goes about and does things, and it seemed like a dog is a good companion. It shows that there’s still a desire for him to have a connection somehow. And so the dog is his faithful companion. In my mind, there’s also a story behind where that dog came from. And so that’s how we ended up with a dog.”

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Reedus campaigned for years for Daryl to be given a dog and has since tweeted his support for the petition.

The Walking Dead returns with the back half of its ninth season Sunday, February 10 on AMC.