The image has gone viral.

A pooch laying in a veterinarian’s office, still knocked out after spleen surgery, with the very visible aftermath of another procedure using a sharp object:

Image source: Instagram

Image source: Instagram

The Brooklyn tattoo artist, known so far only by his nickname Mistah Metro, on Wednesday posted on Instagram the photo of his dog with a freshly inked heart-shaped tattoo with an arrow through it and a ribbon around it reading “Alex” and “Mel” with the accompanying text: “One of the many reasons my dog is cooler than your[s]!”

According to the New York Daily News, the photo was republished on Gothamist and led to such outrage that the tattoo artist took the photo down.

Mistah Metro (Image source: Vine via New York Daily News)

Mistah Metro (Image source: Vine via New York Daily News)

In fact, Mistah Metro seems to have gone dark, social-media speaking, since the backlash and didn’t immediately respond to an email from the Daily News.

But while his boss at Red Legged Devil, a tattoo shop in Brooklyn, made it clear the tattoo job didn’t happen at his shop and he had nothing to do with it (“I’d appreciate it if everyone left me alone,” he told the Daily News), Chris Torres defended keeping Mistah Metro employed.

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

Torres, who won’t disclose Mistah Metro’s real name, also took to Twitter to defend the embattled tattoo artist.

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

But the ASPCA offered a decidedly different take on the animal tattoo debate, issuing a statement that Gothamist noted:

The ASPCA condones the use of tattooing for only identification purposes following spay or neuter surgery. 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.

And responders to some of Torres’ related remarks were none too sympathetic:

@ @ perhaps as his colleague & mentor it wouldn't hurt to have a talk about not using your art for animal abuse?
Poll: Did Tattoo Artist Mistah Metro Who Inked His Sedated Dog After Spleen Surgery Go Too Far?
.@ @ uh are yall cool with employing/working with a dude who tattooed his dog? @
Poll: Did Tattoo Artist Mistah Metro Who Inked His Sedated Dog After Spleen Surgery Go Too Far?
@mister_smiley
bone lawyer
Mistah Metro (Image source: Mistah Metro website)

Mistah Metro (Image source: Mistah Metro website)

The main portal to Mistah Metro’s web site, MistahMetro.com, appears to be down, but its “About” portion was active Thursday:

“In his early youth Metro received much of his influence from watching his Grandfather paint,” the site noted.

“He continues the family tradition in his own forms of expression. There seems to be no boundaries on the different mediums Metro uses on this artistic journey.”

So what do you say? Take TheBlaze poll: