In New South Wales (NSW), dog theft is a serious offence. It can attract penalties ranging from a fine to an imprisonment sentence as well. According to Section 503 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) it is against the law for any party to steal someone’s dog.
Section 503 states the following: “Whosoever steals any dog shall, on conviction by the Local Court, be liable to imprisonment of up to six months, or to pay a fine of 5 penalty units, or both.”
In NSW, currently in 2023, one penalty unit equals to 110 dollars. Therefore, dog theft would attract a fine of up to $550.
Many people also steal a dog to claim the rewards that owners generally offer for parties who help them find the dog. In Australia, there was a surge in demand for pets due to the pandemic induced lockdowns in the period between 2020 and 2021.
There can be genuine defences including if you genuinely thought that you were lawfully entitled to the dog or were under duress. If you acted in this way because you were under duress, you may be able to present your case in a manner that convinces the Court.
However, many people steal dogs only to sell them in the black market. This is a heartless act, and stricter laws to address this matter are required.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
It is important that you take whatever steps possible to keep your pooch safe and sound. Many a times, parties step out of their car to run a quick errand. While doing so, they leave their dog in the car, thinking it would be safe.
However, it is entirely possible for a thief to pick the car locks and run away with your dog. Similarly, many people neglect the backyard area of their house. Because it is within the property, they do not feel the need to secure the backyard.
However, it is extremely important to secure your backyard. You can also consider adding an ID tag for your dog. Many people add a microchip that helps them track their dog if they get lost or are stolen. These chips are effective as you can use it to track the location of your dog.
It may also be beneficial to switch up times and routes for your daily walks with your dogs. While some may argue that this may be inconvenient for the pet as they get accustomed to going out at a certain time, it may be worth considering as the safety of your dog is paramount.
John Bui is the Principal Solicitor for JB Solicitors – a law firm based in Sydney, Australia. John is a Nationally Accredited family law Mediator and Arbitrator with over 10 years’ experience in family law and commercial litigation.