Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A Texas man who found a tattoo on his rescue dog decided to get the same ink in solidarity -- and was later told the symbol marks him as neutered.
Chris Mendiola, who adopted his dog, Bear, six years ago, said in a Facebook post that he got a new tattoo on his arm to match the one he found on the canine's underside.
"For those of you who know [B]ear know that he has a tattoo given to him from some previous owners," Mendiola wrote. "It sickens me to know that people actually tattoo their pets. So tonight I got his tattoo."
The photos went viral after a friend of Mendiola posted them to Reddit, where commenters pointed out Bear's tattoo likely came from a veterinarian rather than his previous owners.
They said the symbol is designed to let other vets know the dog has been neutered to prevent unnecessary surgery. The practice is required by Association of Shelter Veterinarians' standards.
"I knew I was going to get a lot of backlash from it. I did. I got some from my coworkers. I got some from people I thought were my close friends," he told Gizmodo. "It's not for them. It wasn't for them. It wasn't to humor or please them. It's for my dog."
Mendiola said he was aware of the symbol's meaning before getting the tattoo, despite the doubts expressed by Facebook and Reddit commenters.
"I definitely did my research. I actually talked to my family vet about it when I first got him," Mendiola said. "I don't think that people should crop ears. I don't think that people should cut tails off their pets. If they're going to be a member of your family, you should treat them as such. I don't see tattooing your dog as something that you should do... My vet would never just say, 'Hey, willy-nilly, I'm going to tattoo your dog.' It's not going to happen."
Mendiola said he is considering getting a tattoo of Bear's paw print to cover up the symbol on his arm.