Dog Tattoos Controversial, but Are They Legal?

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 02, 2013 10:23 AM

People tattoo everything, even their eyelids. But should the law allow them to tattoo their dogs?

Before you run to the tattoo parlor to give your bowser a "Pug Lyfe" tattoo, consider whether tattooing dogs is animal cruelty.

Dog Tattoos for Identification?

The issue of whether dog tattoos are legal was raised in the case of Ernesto Rodriguez, a veteran and tattoo artist in North Carolina. Rodriguez tattooed his two American Bully breed dogs with belly tattoos, claiming that they have the tattoos for identification "just in case" they are lost, reports CNN.

The National Dog Registry (NDR) seems to support this claim, advocating animal owners to tattoo their dogs and cats to protect them from pet theft.

Dog tattooing may not stop at a small unique sequence of numbers, as the NDR suggests. With more aesthetic embellishments, a dog tattoo may look more like an Ed Hardy-esque human tattoo.

Animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals isn't tickled pink about dying your dog's fur purple. PETA cautions that we extend our canines the kindness of not endangering their health and loving them regardless of how they look, reports the New York Daily News.

Are Dog Tattoos Abusive?

The president of the North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare echoes this concern, claiming that Rodriguez tattooed his dogs out of boredom and is now trying to justify it, reports North Carolina's WGHP-TV.

Unlike temporary tattooing for dogs (yes it's a thing), real tattoos can potentially cause pain and infection to dogs, which may land you in jail for animal abuse.

The courts seem to agree that even tattoo artists like Rodriguez can't start tatting up their kids without being charged with child abuse. But animal abuse laws are different.

Many states, like North Carolina, have animal cruelty laws that make it a crime to intentionally cause a dog unjustifiable pain or suffering.

Your dog is probably begging for table scraps and not a giant tattoo of its astrological sign (even if your dog is a Leo). Depending on your state's laws, there isn't much need for a dog tattoo that puts its owner in the doghouse jail.

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