Joe Robach and the New York State Senate recently passed a bill to help prevent the theft of pets by increasing the penalties for committing the crime. The bill, S.946, would make stealing a licensed dog or cat a felony and takes into account the monetary and emotional value of a pet.

As an owner of two rescue dogs, Joe Robach knows the importance of strengthening pet protection laws and has conveyed his beliefs to the members of the Senate.   Dogs and cats are stolen and sold for many reasons: dog-fighting, puppy-mills, prey for exotic animals and fur for clothing and accessories. Pets are a loving, vital part of the family and, if stolen, can cause serious psychological problems to families.  It is impossible to place a dollar value on the love and companionship provided by our pets.

According to the American Kennel Club’s database of customer and media reports, there is a continuing trend of pet thefts in the United States, with a 49 percent increase in the number of pets reported stolen in the first seven months of 2011 as compared to 2010.

Law enforcement often takes limited action on reported thefts of dogs and cats because currently in New York, the dollar value of stolen property needed to qualify for felony larceny is $1,000. It is often very difficult to establish the value of a dog or cat, particularly when the animal is not recovered. Even when the stolen dog or cat is a pedigree, it is still difficult to place a dollar amount on the animal because lineage is only one factor to be considered when estimating value. This bill would change existing law to include the theft of pets as grand larceny, making the crime a class E felony.

The bill was sent to the Assembly for consideration.  For any questions on this bill or any other legislation pending in the Senate, contact Joe Robach’s office.