Cat and Dog Thieves Are Not Punished Enough
Do courts take into account the emotional distress of the cat or dog owner when they have lost their companion animal to thieves? Or do courts assess sentencing (on the conviction of the criminal) on the value of the cat or dog? If that is the case then some courts cannot place the theft of cats and dogs into a more serious crime category unless the animal has a high value for any particular reason such as being a breeding purebred.
It could be argued that pet thieves need to be punished more severely by the courts. In the UK more than 5000 dogs have been reported stolen since 2013. It is essential that the courts take into account the emotional impact of the theft of a pet rather than treating the theft as if it was that of a cell/mobile phone.
I’m not too sure what the sentencing guidelines are in America on this matter. They may make it difficult for courts to impose prison sentences on people who steal dogs and cats with a value under £500. Random bred domestic cats have a very low monetary value but a very high emotional value. They are probably worth no more than about $40. This is nowhere near their true value.
If courts do not punish cat and dog thieves sufficiently harshly then this form of theft is considered low risk and high return by the thieves. In the UK there has been a gradual increase in the theft of cats and dogs. For instance, over two years there has been 22.3% increase.
Indications are that many thefts of pets go unreported as the owners believe that their cat has simply run away. This would not apply to dogs it would seem to me.
Some dogs are stolen for breeding purposes while others are stolen to then demand a ransom from their owners. On other occasions thieves steal gun dogs such as Cocker spaniels for working purposes and breeding.
In the UK, courts are meant to take into account the emotional distress of the owner. The independent Sentencing Council recently issued revised guidelines dealing with the theft of pets. Under these guidelines courts should take into account the emotional distress of the caretaker. But do they?
I would like to know whether this is the case in America as I have had difficulty in finding information on this matter on the Internet.