"I don't like it when people tattoo their pets, and Bear is my best friend. I decided that I wanted to have the same scar," the dog's owner wrote on Facebook

By Cathy Free
June 21, 2018 01:30 PM
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Courtesy of Chris Mendiola

When is one cut worth several million clicks?

Chris Mendiola of Southlake, Texas, discovered the answer the hard way late last year after posting Facebook pics of him and his rescue pit bull, Bear, sporting matching tattoos of a universal symbol veterinarians use to mark pets that have been neutered.

“Because Bear has a small tattoo on his underbelly, I wanted to get the same tattoo in solidarity, since I know that tattoo must have been painful for my dog,” Mendiola, 27, tells PEOPLE. “I don’t like it when people tattoo their pets, and Bear is my best friend. I decided that I wanted to have the same scar.”

After Mendiola had the inside of his bicep inked, he posted pics of him and Bear on Facebook with a message that he was sickened to know that Bear’s previous owners had given him a painful tattoo. Within days, the photos went viral and Mendiola was flooded with comments from people pointing out the real meaning of the symbol and wondering if he had also been “clipped.”

Today, the comments are still trickling in, but Mendiola, who is now able to laugh about it, has been a good sport. He now tells PEOPLE that he actually knew what the symbol meant before he went to the tattoo parlor, even though thousands of social media followers aren’t buying it.

Courtesy of Chris Mendiola

“They are making fun of you because you literally posted that the tattoo was given by ‘previous owners,’ and the thought made you sick,” wrote one commentator, “so no, it appears that you did not know what that mark is. Good try, though.”

Mendiola laughs off the brouhaha, telling PEOPLE, “I can see that I should have done a better job of explaining myself — that’s pretty clear.”

Courtesy of Chris Mendiola

“I understand that this tattoo is now permanently on my body and I know what it means,” he adds. “I guess you could say there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Bear.”

Bear, a pitbull-mastiff mix, had lived in four different foster homes before Mendiola’s sister heard about him from a coworker and alerted Chris.

“He’s such a gentle giant — we clicked right away,” he says. “Pretty soon, he was sleeping with me and running around in the yard, playing with my dad’s dog. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better dog. Even though he looks scary and mean, he’s a playful soul who’s really a softie.”

Courtesy of Chris Mendiola

Realizing that Bear, who is 8 or 9 years old, wouldn’t be with him forever, Mendiola figured that getting a matching tattoo would be a simple way to keep a part of Bear with him forever — even though it’s not exactly the part he had in mind.

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“When I posted the photos, I never intended for them to go all over the world and get million of clicks,” he tells PEOPLE, “but I guess it’s been fun. Every once in a while, I’ll lift my arm just right and somebody will see the tattoo and go, ‘Hey, you’re THAT guy.'”

For those who are curious, Mendiola, who is single, says he’s hoping to get married and have children someday.

“Let’s put it this way,” he says. “The tattoo on me doesn’t mean the same thing that it does for my dog.”