Ernesto Rodriguez of Stokes County North Carolina, who owns a tattoo parlor in Pilot Mountain, created quite an uproar on Facebook recently when he posted a picture of a new tattoo. The uproar wasn’t so much of the tattoo, but of who had it: his puppy.
Since the backlash began Rodriguez has said that he tattooed Duchess, a 4-month-old American bully, and his other dog, Duke, for identification reasons. But that’s not the full story, if you listen to what else Rodriguez has to say:
“It’s just art. I’m an artist. I wanted to put art on my dog,” he told the Fox 8 news channel. On his Facebook wall, at the time he gave his dog a tattoo, he wrote: “bored and tattooing.” Only recently has he said it’s for identification reasons, an act that the National Dog Registry actually endorses.
The NDR has a specific page dedicated to answering the question: Why Should You Tattoo Your Pet. The page discusses how dogs can run away, or be stolen (they state one out of every five dogs in the US are stolen). The NDR also talks about the high demand for animals to be used in research, food, and fur.
Obviously there are other ways of identifying your pet, such as tags and a microchip, but the NDR claims that a “simple, painless tattoo” is a permanent way to ensure your dog will always come home.
Back to Mr. Rodriguez. His dogs’ tattoos aren’t what the NDR suggests. They suggest simple numbers, whereas Rodriguez really went to town on the two animals he claims to love as if they were his own children.
But his story is particularly fishy. He tells Fox 8 that he decided to tattoo Duchess after picking her up from the vet, where she had her ears clipped. He said she was asleep when he picked her up from the vet, asleep during the tattooing procedure, and continued to sleep afterwards.
“Really, that’s kind of suspicious in my mind,” said N.C. Voters for Animal Welfare President Caleb Scott. “Usually when you pick up a dog or cat from the vet, they’re already awake after a procedure. They don’t usually hand you over a dog that’s asleep.”
According to North Carolina’s animal welfare statutes, a person cannot inflict unjustifiable pain and suffering, which is exactly what Scott believes Duke and Duchess must have endured. Rodriguez disagrees. When asked if he regretted his actions, he replied, “No, not at all. I’ll do it again to my next dogs.”
Is dog tattooing animal cruelty? Or does it depend on one’s intent? If the tattooing is for ID purposes, does that make it better than if you decide to turn your dog into the next Miami Ink spokesperson?