Dog Theft: A Case for Tougher Sentencing Legislation

Animals (Basel). 2018 May 22;8(5):78. doi: 10.3390/ani8050078.


Dogs, and other companion animals, are currently classed as "property" in theft sentencing legislation for England and Wales. This means that offenders who steal dogs are given similar sentences to those that steal inanimate objects. This review presents the argument that the penalty for dog theft should be more severe than for the theft of non-living property. Evidence of the unique bond between dogs and humans, and discussion of the implications of labelling a living being as mere "property" are used to support this argument. The review concludes that the Sentencing Council's guidelines should be amended so that offences involving the theft of a companion animal are deemed to be a Category 2 offence or above. The review further proposes that "theft of a companion animal" should be listed in the Sentencing Council's guidelines as an aggravating factor.

Keywords: companion animals; dogs; ethics; human-animal bond; law.

Publication types

  • Review