- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2014

A New York City tattoo artist drew a firestorm of criticism after bragging on Instagram that he tattooed his dog while it was under anesthesia.

The artist, known only by his nickname Mistah Metro, posted a photo of his brown-and-white dog, lying unconscious, with a heart-shaped tattoo featuring the names “Alex” and “Mel,” Gothamist first reported.

“One of the many reasons my dog is cooler than yours! She had her spleen removed today and the vet let me tattoo her while she was under,” he commented, later deleting the post altogether.

“Had to delete my account and make up another, some people just don’t appreciate anything! It’s an ANIMAL with a tattoo,” he commented.

The photo has brought a lot of flack to the Red Legged Devil tattoo shop in Brooklyn, where Mistah Metro works, with people demanding he be fired.

Owner Chris Torres has defended the employee and maintains that the tattoo did not take place at his shop.

“Nothing happened at the shop,” he told the New York Daily News. “The dog didn’t get tattooed at this shop. It has nothing to do with this shop whatsoever… I’d appreciate it if everyone left me alone.”

Mr. Torres later tweeted: “You guys are aware that the ASPCA tattoos dogs & cats once they’ve spayed or neutered them, right?”

“People are still offered jobs after being pedophiles,” he added. “I don’t know why everyone is treating this kid like he raped a 12-year-old.”

Gothamist reported that that the tattooing of one’s pet is not illegal, though the American Veterinary Medical Association said unnecessary procedures should be avoided.

“We can’t say a tattoo is going to do enormous damage to an animal, but we do look at whether a procedure is therapeutically necessary first—if it’s not, that’s not the vets goal,” said Emily Patterson-Kane, an animal welfare scientist at the organization.

The ASPCA condemned the tattoo, saying it never inks animals purely for entertainment.

“The ASPCA condones the use of tattooing for only identification purposes following spay or neuter surgery,” it said in a statement to Gothamist. “This practice helps animal welfare professionals clearly identify animals that have been altered, thereby preventing unnecessary future surgeries. This painless procedure is performed by a licensed veterinarian or veterinary technician while the animal is under anesthesia. The marks are very small and have a specific purpose, which is to avoid inflicting undue pain and stress later if that animal is unknowingly brought in for a spay surgery a second time.

“Tattooing an animal for the vain sake of joy and entertainment of the owner - without any regard for the well-being of the animal - is not at all comparable to the incident in question and is not something the ASPCA supports,” the statement said.

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