A North Carolina Army veteran and tattoo artist is under fire from animal cruelty groups after a photo of his tattooed pit bull made the rounds online.
Ernesto Rodriguez is facing an investigation by Stokes County Health Department and Animal Control after he tattooed his five-month-old American pit bull, Duchess, at the tattoo parlor he operates out of his basement.
Rodriguez said he inked Duchess for identification purposes, using an emblem that supposedly represents her bloodline.
"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 WXII 12.
County Health officials issued a cease and desist order, prohibiting Rodriguez from tattooing humans (or animals) until he acquires the proper zoning permits for his shop.
Criminal charges have not been filed, and according to Dr. Ken Wheeler, state veterinary medical board investigator, tattooing a pet is legal unless it is considered animal cruelty, defined as the dog feeling pain or being maimed.
Rodriguez said Duchess was sedated when he tattooed her, and he had anesthetized the skin around the tattoo.
Animal control reportedly visited Rodriguez's home and found him within the law.
"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.”
PETA does not condemn animal tattoos for identification purposes, recommending identification numbers or other kind of visible tattoo in place of a microchip in case a pet is found by someone without scanning capabilities.