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Pet Tattooing-Some Things You Should Know Before Banning The Practice
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Jessica Adler
08.14.18

Over the past few years, pet owners have been posting pictures with their tatted-up cats and dogs, and sparking intense controversy in the process.

As the trend rises in popularity, the debate is getting heated.

With laws like that in New York being made, banning pet tattoos and piercings to the tune of jail time and hefty fines, it seems like a good time to bring a little education to the argument.

Instagram/elenaiwt
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Instagram/elenaiwt

Probably the most well-known incident within the controversy is that of the popular Instagram user, Elena Ivanickaya.

The woman who got torn up by the internet for trying to vainly “glam” up her cat.

The Ukrainian body-builder posted the infamous picture of her cat right after getting the winged Egyptian god, Anubis, tattooed on the chest of her Sphynx cat in October of 2017, and viewers were vehement.

Following in her footsteps, a Brooklyn tattooist who goes by Mistah Metro decided to brand his dog with the iconic heart and banner symbol sporting he and his wife’s name on its shoulder.

Instagram/mistahmetro7
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Instagram/mistahmetro7

Again, outrage poured from social media followers.

It wasn’t long after this that petitions to have the practice banned started flooding the internet.

Before you click “sign” to ban them altogether, though, you should consider some of the reasons pet owners and tattooists are agreeing to it.

Instagram/shaneburnell
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Instagram/shaneburnell

While tattooing your pet for vanity’s sake is just that, vain, and can be considered cruel on several levels, there are some good reasons for doing it.

The main reason, even according to animal rights activist groups, is for solid identification purposes.

Take the collar method of ID, for instance.

Although they are incredibly useful if your pet is lost or run away, it doesn’t really protect them from being stolen, since a collar can easily be slipped off and destroyed.

Facebook/Happy Tails Pet Grooming
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Facebook/Happy Tails Pet Grooming

The additional layer of protection most pet-lovers resort to in response to these concerns is microchipping.

Unfortunately, microchips aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Since chips are embedded under the skin, people cannot see them. Even if they could, each type of chip requires the corresponding scanner to read them, and contrary to popular belief, they do *not* track your animal for you.

Pet facilities, such as vet offices and shelters, generally only have one type of scanner, and if it doesn’t read the type of chip in your pet they could end up getting adopted out or worse, destroyed.

Sadly, in addition, some microchips are now linked to cancers and could present more harm than protection for your little buddy. One maker, Merck, has even been sued over it!

Inked
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Inked

This brings us to the actual usefulness of getting your pet tattooed.

The practice of tattooing pets actually has quite a long history, and was popularized in America in the 1960’s with the National Dog Registry, and was joined by the organization specifically designed for the purpose, Tattoo-A-Pet, in 1972.

Roughly 20 years later, the act was legitimized with official recognition of the practice by the American Kennel Club’s Companion Animal Registry (CAR).

Nature's Way Pets
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Nature's Way Pets

So, how could what seems like such an awful practice be so readily accepted just a few short decades ago, you might ask?

It all comes down to two things, intention and location sensitivity.

As it turns out, tattooing your pet for ID purposes is MUCH more acceptable in the eyes of pet protection agencies than it is for glamorizing your companion.

Animal ID
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Animal ID

As explained by Betty Lewis, a former pet-tattooist with Tattoo-A-Pet, tattooing your furbuddy (or fur-challenged) can be quite painless and cosmetically appealing when done in the right spot.

“Tattoos are painless to apply, cosmetically acceptable when done in the groin by a skilled tattoo artist, instantly traceable, and, when an individual number is used on each dog, satisfies the AKC’s requirements.”

So gangsta-tats, demigods, and inked bling are on the outs because there is no real reasoning behind them, other than vain stupidity and lack of compassion.

On the other hand, tattooing for the future protection of your pet against theft, loss, or as breeder’s insurance against false origination complaints, is quite possibly the safest route you can take for your 4-legged companion.

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Linea Veterinarea
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Linea Veterinarea

According to Lewis, a tattoo is the most solid way to ensure recovery of your pet, and if you aren’t concerned about them going missing at some point, you should be.

“More than 1,000,000 pets are lost or stolen each year. Some are even sold into research firms where they are literally slowly poisoned to death.
Overcrowded animal shelters and humane societies are often forced to destroy lost pets unless they can be returned to their owners in a very short time.
Dog nappers usually release an animal they find is permanently identified but this may be miles from home.”

So as the battle rages on for this nearly 60-year practice to be put to rest, you might want to reconsider what is ethical when it comes to pet ownership, and add some specificity to the petition.

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By Jessica Adler
hi@sbly.com
Jessica Adler is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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