Man Defends Tattooing His Dogs

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STOKES CO., North Carolina (WGHP) -- Ernesto Rodriguez is a disabled Army veteran and father of three.

And he said he loves his dogs as if they were his own children.

"Even my kids are like, 'Man, those dogs eat better than we do!," he said.

His puppy, Duchess, is a 4-month-old American Bulldog who now boasts a belly tattoo. Another of his dogs, Duke, has one, too.

."They both have it," said Rodriguez. "They both have their tattoos on them just in case anything happens to them."

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," he said.

Animal advocate, Caleb Scott, said the whole story just doesn't add up.

"Really that's kind of suspicious in my mind," said Scott. "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. On his first Facebook post, he said he was bored and tattooing. I think now he's backpedaling saying he's identifying it."

Rodriguez insists the dog was asleep following the procedure.

"It's just like judging someone for wearing a tattoo," he said. "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."

After Rodriguez posted a Facebook picture of Duchess, people from all over the country responded calling him an animal abuser.

He said he doesn't regret it.

"No not at all," he said. "I'll do it again on my next dogs."

Investigators in Stokes County, North Carolina, said they are looking into the case because someone filed a complaint.

They don't know yet if any laws were violated.

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