STOKES COUNTY, NC (WGHP/CNN) - A North Carolina man is defending his decision to tattoo his puppy and post the picture on Facebook. He says he did it for identification, but others say it was cruel.
Ernesto Rodriguez, a disabled army veteran and father of three, says he loves his dogs as if they were his children.
"Even my kids are like, 'Man, those dogs eat better than we do," Rodriguez said.
His puppy, Duchess, is a 4-month-old American bulldog who now boasts a belly tattoo. His other dog, Duke, has one too.
"They both have it. They both have their tattoos on them just in case anything happens to them," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he gave Duchess the intricate identification after taking her to the vet to get her ears clipped.
"I took her to the shop, tattooed her, and she slept the rest of the day," Rodriguez said.
Animal advocate Caleb Scott claims the whole story doesn't add up.
"Really that's kind of suspicious in my mind," Scott said.
"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."
Rodriguez, however, insists the dog was asleep following the procedure.
"It's just like judging someone for wearing a tattoo. You judge and you think that they're bad people. It's not. It's just art. I'm an artist, I want to put art on my dogs. She was already asleep, so I took advantage of that," Rodriguez said.
After Rodriguez posted a Facebook picture of Duchess, people from all over the country responded calling him an animal abuser.
When asked if he regretted his decision, Rodriguez remained firm with his answer.
"No, not at all. I'll do it again to my next dogs," he said.