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.

Where these cats thefts to do with the cat fur trade on the continent?
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Where these cats thefts to do with the cat fur trade on the continent? I have a page on this.

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.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Dee (Florida) says:

    It’s very unlikely that any cat or dog would be stolen here. Only a small percentage would be possibly stolen if pedigreed and papered. To that, we can assume that any cat/dog stolen would be meant for breeding. My guess would be that those would be less than 1%.
    We are a land of moggies. Only idiots and elitists have a need to have purebreds.

    • M E King says:

      Most thefts are not reported or tracked.
      I have long noticed that looking in the lost and found section for dogs especially there will be a sudden run on one breed being reported missing.

  2. M E King says:

    IN the US we have the American Rule where each party bears their own legal costs. In the UK as I understand the loser most often bears the cost of the both parties. Many of these cases end up being civil. Generally speaking for a dog or cat of no pedigree you can only recover the replacement cost. Sometimes as little as 40 dollars. Hence most cases never get to court. Many small claim courts cannot give punitive damages.
    As we have been though the legal system trying to get justice I can tell you as far as domestic pets go you are legally screwed in the US

    • Michael Broad says:

      ME, that sounds similar to the UK. Very similar really. There is no economic value in cats. There is a ton of emotional value which is not assessed in monetary terms.

      I don’t know of any civil cases regarding domestic cats. They are very rare. It is not economically viable as you say to go to court. We are stuffed too.

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