A North Carolina man has sparked controversy among animal lovers after he tattooed his puppy’s belly and posted a photo of the tattoo on Facebook last week.
Ernesto Rodriguez, an army veteran, says he tattooed his 4-month-old pit bull mix for identification purposes. Duchess the puppy and his other dog, Duke, have the same intricate tattoo.
"They both have it. They both have their tattoos on them just in case anything happens to them," Rodriguez told CNN.
Critics say Rodriguez posted the photo to the Planet Ink Tattoo Facebook page to publicize the tattoo parlor he ran out of his basement, and they argue that his story about inking Duchess doesn’t add up.
Rodriguez claims that he gave the dog the tattoo after taking her to the vet to have her ears clipped.
"I took her to the shop, tattooed her, and she slept the rest of the day," he said.
But animal advocate Caleb Scott, who serves on the North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare board, says Rodriguez’s story is suspicious.
"Usually, when you pick up a dog or cats they're already awake after the procedure. They don't usually hand you over a dog that is asleep," Scott added. "On his first Facebook post he said he was bored and tattooing. I think now he's backpedaling, saying he's identifying it."
But Rodriquez says he loves his dogs as if they were his children and insists he tattooed Duchess while she was asleep.
The photo he posted to Facebook earned him criticism from users across the country, as well as a visit from the Stokes County Health Department, which shut down Planet Ink Tattoo because it violated local zoning laws.
Animal control officers also paid Rodriguez a visit but didn’t charge him with animal cruelty.
"Here is the final results for you haters out there," Rodriguez posted on Facebook. "Animal control came looked at my beautiful dog and left ... wow ... what a waste of tax payers money ... so im still gonna tattoo my dogs when ever i feel like it ... good try haters thanks for all the advertisement."
When a reporter asked if he regretted tattooing Duchess, Rodriguez said no and that if he gets another dog, he will tattoo that animal as well.
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