New York lawmakers pass bill making it illegal to tattoo or pierce your pet

Decades ago, a person with tattoos was thought of as a rebel or an outlaw, but all that’s changed. Nowadays, tattoos are mainstream and no longer a symbol of the counter-culture (you might even have one yourself!). But one form of tattooing is justifiably considered outrageous, and that’s tattooing of pets. I’m not talking about the practice of tattooing pets for identification purposes, but decorative tattoos. Most pet-lovers would agree that tattooing a pet is a dumb idea. It’s also a practice that inflicts unnecessary pain and the possibility of infection upon an animal…but is it illegal?

In most states, anti-cruelty laws make it a crime to intentionally inflict pain or suffering upon an animal. New legislation passed by the New York state legislature last week prohibits “unnecessary body modification” of companion animals, specifically making it a crime for pet owners to tattoo or pierce a pet. The legislation was endorsed by the Humane Society of New York and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Cuomo. Violations of the law will result in a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail; the bill does provide an exception for tattoos for the purpose of identification or medical purposes.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced the legislation in 2011 following reports of “gothic kittens” with piercings for sale in New York. More recently, outrage after a Brooklyn dog was inked by his tattoo artist owner propelled the bill forward. Rosenthal said about the bill: “Companion animals, such as dogs and cats, will no longer be subject to the selfish whims of their owners.”