A North Carolina tattoo artist sparked a controversy last week when he posted a photo on Facebook of his 5-month-old pit pull "Duchess" sporting a tattoo on her belly.
The pet's branding triggered an immediate online outcry from animal lovers who characterized the act as "cruelty."
An Army veteran from Pinnacle, tattoo artist Ernesto Rodriguez told WXII12 News
that his dog was anesthetized while getting the tattoo and "didn’t feel anything."
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"She got up and she’s been fine," Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez compared Duchess' tattoo to the branding of farm animals for identification purposes, telling WXII12 that the tattooed emblem is related to the animal's pedigree bloodline.
Shortly after posting the photo on the Planet Ink Facebook page, animal lovers weighed in.
"This is so sad. There is not a dog in the world who deserves to go through this type of cruelty. I feel terrible for any dog in your care. I wish they would take them all away and find safe, loving homes for them," said one animal lover, the Daily Mail reported.
One Facebook user added: "Please... do us all a favor... don't ever have children... I would hate to see what you would to your children if you ever got bored with them in the house."
Another commenter posted: "Receiving a tattoo requires consent. Your dog cannot consent. Please be respectful to those who cannot consent. Be respectful to your dog."
Rodriguez defended his decision to tattoo his animal.
"What do they do when they brand animals and tattoo horses on their ear and brand their cow? You’re not abusing them. You’re just protecting them so they don’t get lost," Rodriguez told WXII12.
"If you go on Google and type up dog tattoos, you'll get a thousand images of dogs tattooed. This has been going on for years," Rodriguez added.
Though there are images of dogs and cats with tattoos online, in most cases it is difficult to tell whether or not the tattoos are real or temporary, fake tattoos.
In February 2012, a Russian man gained notoriety when he posted a shirtless picture of himself holding his hairless sphinx cat that sported a necklace design tattoo on its chest identical to its owners.
No criminal charges have been filed against Rodriguez for tattooing his dog.
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According to Dr. Ken Wheeler, investigator with the state veterinary medical board, the act is not considered illegal unless it believed to be an act of animal cruelty. In this case it was apparently not considered a cruel act according to local authorities.
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