Great News! You Can’t Tattoo or Pierce Your Pet in New York Anymore

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just made it illegal to cosmetically tattoo or pierce a companion animal in his state. It’s welcome news. However, the fact that any state needs this kind of law to stop such sad and cruel practices is discouraging. It’s heartbreaking, too.

There’s nothing wrong with tattoos and piercings — on people. If that’s how you make your personal style statement, more power to you. You have a choice you can exercise freely. Animals do not. When you impose tattoos and piercings on innocent dogs and cats because you think it’s cool, you’ve stepped over the line.

New York Takes a Stand for Animals

“While people can decide whether they would like to undergo the pain associated with a tattoo or piercing, animals do not have that luxury,” said Linda Rosenthal, the New York assemblymember who introduced this legislation in 2011.

“Subjecting animals to painful cosmetic procedures, such as tattooing and piercing, merely to satisfy an individual’s misguided and selfish aesthetic predilections, is inhumane and should be considered cruelty by the law,” Rosenthal added. “I am pleased that the Governor signed my bill into law; doing so sends a strong message that this kind of behavior constitutes animal abuse and that it will not be tolerated.”

Rosenthal’s proposed legislation gained a lot of support in early 2014 after a Brooklyn tattoo artist posted a photo to Instagram, showing the tattoo he’d just given his dog while it was at the vet’s office for an operation. He accompanied the picture with this statement: “My dog is cooler than yours!” Here’s the photo, which he later removed, that outraged animal lovers:

Photo credit: Instagram/Mistah Metro

Photo credit: Instagram/Mistah Metro

Dogs aren’t the only animals people like to tattoo. The sphinx cat, a naturally hairless breed, is a frequent victim of tattoo-happy owners. If you can’t believe inking cats happens very often, take a peek at this photo, this one and this one. For that matter, simply Google “cats with tats.” Sad, isn’t it? Why is this considered cool?

While it appears this sort of tattooing happens mostly while the animals are sedated (it almost has to), it’s still inappropriate. Companion animals are not fashion accessories. They are not “living life on the edge” with their nonconformist owners. They just want to be loved and well treated.

“This is animal abuse, pure and simple,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m proud to sign this common sense legislation and end these cruel and unacceptable practices in New York once and for all.”

States Begin to Recognize the Need to Penalize This Ridiculous Fashion Statement

New York wasn’t the first state to legally recognize and forbid this type of foolishness. Pennsylvania can claim that honor. In 2011, a Pennsylvania court convicted a pet groomer in Wilkes-Barre of animal cruelty in connection with cosmetic piercing. Holly Crawford sold what she called “gothic kittens” online for $100 apiece. What she did to turn them “gothic” was astounding and abhorrent.

Crawford added piercings to the black kittens’ ears, necks and backs, using a needle meant for cattle, not tiny animals. She also “docked” their tails using rubber bands. Part of her defense at trial was that the state cruelty law was too vague for her to realize what she was doing was wrong. That excuse didn’t fly and she was, thankfully, convicted. Watch a brief news story about this case here:

An appeal of Crawford’s conviction to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania fell on deaf ears. “Appellant’s claims center on her premise that a person of normal intelligence would not know whether piercing a kitten’s ears or banding its tail is maiming, mutilating, torturing or disfiguring an animal,” wrote Judge Kate Ford Elliott in the court’s decision. “We disagree.”

It’s Time for All States to Follow New York’s Lead

When New York’s law takes effect four months from now, only certain types of tattooing and piercing will be authorized. Examples include tattoos or piercings necessary for identification or medical treatment under the supervision of a veterinarian. Violations can result in up to 15 days in jail and a $250 fine.

Obviously, cosmetic tattooing and piercing of pets is not an isolated phenomenon anymore. It’s happening with increasing frequency. The ability to show off on social media makes the idea even more enticing for some. If it takes legislation to stop people from making this type of “fashion statement,” every state should take action. New Jersey is reportedly already considering legislation similar to New York’s.

Don’t let the momentum stop. Call on your most animal-friendly state political representatives and let them know about New York’s new law. Push them to introduce something similar. Innocent animals can’t speak out, but we can — and we should.

Photo credit (main image): Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V4 years ago

thanks for the article.

Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolsey4 years ago

This not only needs to be enforced in New York, but worldwide. I doubt any animal actually wants a tattoo burned into their body. . .

Elizabeth Z.
Elizabeth Z4 years ago

This is insane. This needs to be illegal everywhere.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

I have never seen any of this in person. I don't think I could hold my tongue if I did. The worst I have seen is a multi-colored dyed poodle that I thought was rediculous. I do wonder if ID tattoos are considered fashion tattoos? I know many who use tattoos with ID numbers as theft prevention and identification.

Patricia Guilhem
Patricia Guilhem4 years ago

Les animaux ne sont pas des poupées, des jouets et encore moins des objets. Certaines personnes ne sont pas très bien dans leur tête. Ils faut qu' ils se fassent soigner.

Kamia T.
Kamia T4 years ago

Great news. I'd love to see pets going back to being the animals they are -- they're perfectly happy that way - and not little boopsies being dressed up, tattooed or treated in any other manner like a miniature replacement baby.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants4 years ago

Deborah is right!

Manuela C.
Manuela C4 years ago

Very good news!

Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.4 years ago

Well there are some " Super " idiots around, and lets not think about the cruelty in doing this barbaric thing to animals. If humans enjoy decorating their bodies ok, but hands of ANIMALS.

donnaa d.
donnaa D4 years ago

lock them up and throw away the key. its disgraceful