New York Paves The Way For Criminalizing Pet Theft

 By Lauryn Collier, AKC Government Relations Intern

On July 17, the AKC Dog Lovers featured a blog to raise awareness about the steady increase in the number of dogs being stolen and to give tips to owners on how to prevent pet theft.  As the nation begins to take heed of this issue, one state in particular is taking action. 

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Something as tiny as this microchip could help you recover your pet if he or she is ever stolen.

The New York State General Assembly recently passed companion bills Senate Bill 7684 / Assembly Bill 8185, that would criminalize the stealing of companion animals from a person’s property. They also establish a fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment up to six months for pet theft. The crime includes deliberately removing the collar or any form of identification from a companion animal without the owner’s permission and increases the penalty when someone entices or seizes a dog when it is properly identified, or transports a companion animal for the purpose of killing or selling it without the owner’s express permission.

The AKC supports these bills, which have passed their respective chambers, but have not yet been officially enrolled or transferred to the Governor. (Ed. Note - AB 8185 was signed into law on 7/23/14). 

Several other bills in the New York General Assembly are intended to help protect companion animals from theft or abduction. SB 6643 rewrites sections of the enforcement of animal crimes law to include third, second, and first degree companion animal abduction with increased penalties to class B misdemeanor, class A misdemeanor, and class D felony convictions respectively. Senate Bill 1495, which would include pet theft in the crime of grand larceny in the fourth degree, also advanced through the senate in late 2013 and was pending in the Assembly Codes Committee when the General Assembly adjourned approximately a week ago.

AKC applauds the measures that New York has taken to advance awareness and penalties for pet theft. We encourage dog owners in New York and elsewhere to support measures that protect pets as property and criminalize and ensure appropriate penalties for pet theft.

The measures that New York State has taken to begin the discussions about pet theft and propose legislation to protect dogs is sure to catch on in other jurisdictions. We encourage New York dog owners to contact the Governor in support of   SB 7684/AB 8185.

To contact Governor Cuomo, submit a message online, call the Governor’s office at (518) 474-8390, or send mail to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

In the meantime, we encourage all dog owners to take responsible steps toward ensuring they do not become victims of pet theft. Here are a few ways you can prevent pet theft in your area:

  • Never leave your dog unattended outside a store or unprotected in a public place
  • Do not give out detailed personal information  about your dog or where you live
  • Protect your dog with identification – permanent microchip ID is best, in addition to collar/tags.

 

For more information on pet theft prevention and recovery, visit www.akcreunite.org or click here.