STOKES COUNTY, N.C. -- A dog with a tattoo? She's getting a lot of attention from all over the country.
Ernesto Rodriguez is a tattoo artist who owns a shop in Pilot Mountain. He admits he tattooed his puppy for identification purposes, but many say it's an example of canine cruelty.
Rodriguez is a disabled Army veteran and father of three who says he loves his dogs as if they were his 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 Bully who now boasts a belly tattoo. 7-year-old Duke has one too.
"They both have it. They both have their tattoos on them just in case something happens to them," said Rodriguez.
He says he gave Duchess the intricate identification after taking her to the vet to have her ears clipped.
"I took her to the shop, tattooed her, and she slept the rest of the day. Really that's kind of suspicious in my mind," he said.
Animal advocate Caleb Scott says the whole story just doesn't add up.
"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's asleep. On his first Facebook post, he said he was bored and tattooing. I think now he's backpedaling saying he's identifying it."
We asked him several times and Rodriguez 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 dog. She was already asleep so I took advantage of that," he 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 doing it after the backlash, he replied, "No, not at all. I'll do it again on my next dogs."