Tattoos and Rescues: Injured puppy held by hands that say 'Save Them'

Photos courtesy of Brian Batista

Much like tattoos, our animal friends give us something that lasts a lifetime.

In a photo project called "Tattoos & Rescues," Nashville-based photographer Brian Batista focuses his lens on tattooed people and their beloved rescue animals in hopes of combating the stigmas that both groups face.

Just as rescue animals that have experienced trauma or abuse are generally considered more difficult to adopt out, it isn't uncommon for people with tattoos to face unfair judgment of their character or even job discrimination. Batista explains:

"One of my friends got a memorial tattoo on his neck for his 4-year-old son that died. He was fired the next day for having this tattoo, which was showing his love for his son with art and self expression. This is nothing short of bullying; it's not fair and needs to be stopped. Not all visibly tattooed people are in hate groups, just like not all pit bulls are vicious."

In the photo above, we see a tiny pitbull cradled in the arms of rescuer Richard Burgess, whose knuckles are tattooed with the phrase, "Save Them." The puppy, now named Major's Miracle (or just "Major" for short), was living in a foster situation when another dog in the household attacked him. Major survived, but the attack left him with some serious damage to his sinuses that required emergency surgery and a lot of post-op care.

As evidenced in the photo below, his journey to recovery is clearly in good hands. You can read the whole story over at Batista's blog (be warned, there are graphic photos of Major's fresh injuries), and be sure to follow the resilient pup on Facebook.

Tattoos and Rescues: Amber and Major

While most of the animals featured in the project are pitbulls, Batista hopes to expand the scope of the project to other rescue animals — including other dog breeds, cats, horses, snakes and more.

" 'Tattoos & Rescues' is a labor of love for me because these stories need to be told," Batista explains. "You will never hear how bad a situation is from a manager; you will hear it from the people in the trenches doing the work."

The project is a work in progress, so visit Batista's website if you're interested in being featured with your rescue animal. In the meantime, continue below to see more portraits of the bond between tattooed people and their rescues.

Tattoos and Rescues: Steffen and Chesty

Steffan and Chesty

Tattoos and Rescues: Jeremy and Kenithe with Mathilda

Jeremy and Kenithe with Mathilda

Tattoos and Rescues: Ami and Dexter

Ami and Dexter

Tattoos and Rescues: Steve and Lilly

Steve and Lilly

Tattoos and Rescues: Charlie and Django

Charlie and Django

Tattoos and Rescues: Heather and Diesel

Heather and Diesel

Tattoos and Rescues: Catfish, Erin and Handsome Hank

Catfish, Erin and Handsome Hank

Tattoos and Rescues: Vicki and Sarge

Vicki and Sarge

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.