Ask The County Law Librarian – Pet Theft

Q. Hi Law Librarian,

I was taking my purebred Akita puppy, Jett, for a walk and I tied her to a parking sign for 2 minutes while I ducked into a bodega to get us some water; when I came out she was gone. Stolen! I called the police, animal control, posted signs, and talked to neighbors and so far nothing. Is this a crime?


A. Hi Michelle,

Pet theft remains a terrible reality across the country. Often underlying these crimes are dogfighters seeking bait animals and dealers acquiring animals to sell to research laboratories or breeding operations. Less organized motivations include kidnap and ransom attempts even animal hording.

Yes it is a crime:

CA Penal Code 487e.
Every person who feloniously steals, takes, or carries away a
dog of another which is of a value exceeding nine hundred fifty
dollars ($950) is guilty of grand theft.

CA Penal Code 487f.
Every person who feloniously steals, takes, or carries away a
dog of another which is of a value not exceeding nine hundred fifty
dollars ($950) is guilty of petty theft.

What Can We Do To Prevent Pet Theft
Animals that are consistently left unmonitored are of course more vulnerable to pet theft but all unattended animals are potentially at risk.

Be familiar with your neighborhood and its animals. Where dog walkers and pet sitters are involved introduce them to your neighbors.

Keep clear and current documentation connecting you with your animal(s) – this could include adoption papers, veterinary records, and identifying photographs.

Keep contact information on animal collars and tags updated, using phone numbers and/or email addresses that are legible and reliable. Have your animal(s) microchipped.

Michelle I hope you are reunited with Jett very soon!

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian

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