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Advocates against

The criminal offence of stealing a dog

If you were not aware, you would think that stealing a dog would be categorised as any other stealing offence. However, you would be wrong.

In New South Wales, Parliament knew that our love for our furry four-legged friends was so great that it required a specific offence to deter people from stealing them.

If you think we are joking, we really are not. Section 132 of the Crimes Act makes is a specific offence to steal a dog.

Although it is not the most serious offence in the criminal calendar it is sure to land you at least in the dog pound for a few days.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been tempted to run off with a poodle at some point in our lives. However, what are the legal ramifications for doing so?

Here is everything that you need to know about the offence of stealing dogs.

The Law on Stealing a Dog

It is a criminal offence under Section 132 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) to steal a dog or knowingly possess a stolen dog.

The offence in Section 132 is quite broad, and it captures any of the following circumstances:

1) Stealing a dog.

2) Knowingly being in possession of a stolen dog.

Possession in this context means both, physical possession, as in having the dog under your physical control, and it can also mean having the dog within your property or home.

Therefore, a person can be charged under this offence even if they were not personally involved in stealing the dog.

All that the police need to prove is that the dog was in the person’s possession and that the person knew the dog was stolen.


What is the maximum penalty for stealing a dog?

The maximum penalty for the criminal offence of stealing a dog is imprisonment for one year.

The maximum penalty for a regular stealing offence is 5 years imprisonment.

That law in that regard is fascinating, because by virtue of the difference in the maximum penalties a person essentially commits a more serious offence by stealing a grocery item than stealing a dog.


What are the possible defences to the offence of stealing a dog?

“Your Honour, it was a ‘Lady and the Tramp’ like moment and unfortunately I just couldn’t resist the Tramp”.

Although we have never tested the defence out of the fear that we’d be barking up the wrong tree, we are sure that it has some paws-ibility.

The Lady and the Tramp aside, there are in fact several possible defences to the charge of stealing a dog. These defences include:

a) That you did not steal or possess the dog.

b) That you did not know the dog in your possession was stolen.

c) That you were under a genuine belief that you were the rightful owner of the dog.


What matters will the court take into account if I plead guilty?

If your love for canines somehow overwhelms your moral compass into stealing a dog, unfortunately, you will soon find out that you don’t get to enjoy a ‘Lady and the Tramp’-like ending.

Instead you will more than like get the ‘Dog Thief and Angry Magistrate’ ending.

Nonetheless, there are several matters that a court will have to consider when determining what an appropriate sentence is. These include:

1) The value of the dog that was stolen.

2) The circumstances in which the dog was stolen.

3) Whether the stealing of the dog was done spontaneously or whether it was planned.

4) Was the dog stolen for financial gain or out of puppy love.

5) Was the dog subjected to ill treatment after it was stolen.

Additionally, a court will also need to consider all the subjective features of the person who stole the dog. This includes things like their age, criminal record, background and mental health.

Depending on the circumstances of the case as a whole, even if a person pleads guilty, a person can potentially avoid a criminal conviction for the offence of stealing a dog.

If you have been charged with the criminal offence stealing a dog, it’s crucial that you receive legal advice about your options.


What is our favourite dog joke?

We thought we’d end with a bang:

Why did the dog cross the road?

To get to the BARKING lot!