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KSDK – When you welcome a television character into your home night after night, year after year, it's only natural to develop a strong attachment.

It can be a painful experience when that character's life is cut short, like losing a member of the family.

Such is the ordeal fans of the animated Fox sitcom "Family Guy" find themselves going through right now. This past Sunday, viewers were forced to sit through the unexpected death of Brian, the intellectual Griffin family dog who could always be seen with a martini in hand and keeping baby Stewie in check.

Brian brought a sophistication to the absurd antics of the rest of the Griffin clan. His unceremonious demise was met with shock and confusion.

"It seemed more in the realm of reality that a dog would get hit by a car, than if one of the kids died," executive producer Steve Callaghan told E!. "As much as we love Brian, and as much as everyone loves their pets, we felt it would be more traumatic to lose one of the kids, rather than the family pet."

Fans have been up in arms on social media, doing everything from demanding Brian back to threatening not to watch the show again.

One Alabama man has even gone so far as to start a petition on Change.org to "bring Brian Griffin back to Family Guy." It's not as crazy as it sounds; the petition has reached almost 40,000 signatures! There are hot-button issues in Washington that wouldn't get half as many.

Seth MacFarlane and the "Family Guy" team have yet to respond to the petition, although Callaghan said Sunday that he's not worried about a backlash because fans know they can trust the writers and creative team.

One thing is for sure: this fight could get uglier than a melee between Peter and the giant chicken.

You can find the petition here: http://chn.ge/17Ttmaf.

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