Albany, NY - July 23, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation that will increase the maximum fine from $200 to $1,000 for those who attempt to steal, harm, or transport a dog, cat or other pet that is not their own.
“For many New Yorkers, a pet can be an extension of their family – which is why pet theft is a particularly heartless offense,” Governor Cuomo said. “Increasing the penalties for stealing or harming dogs, cats and other animals is an important way that we can crack down on this crime, and I thank the bill’s sponsors for their work on this issue.”
The new maximum penalty will be applied against those that remove a collar or identification, entice, seize or harass a pet while it is being held, led or while properly muzzled, or transporting an animal for the purpose of killing or selling it. The fine has not been increased since 1970, when the penalties were raised to the current maximum of $200 and/or 6 months imprisonment.
Senator Mark Grisanti said, “Too many New Yorkers have experienced the heartbreak of having a pet stolen from them, and I am happy to have sponsored this bill that will raise the penalties for this crime. It is our hope that a maximum $1,000 fine will discourage potential thefts and keep animals in their rightful homes. I thank Governor Cuomo, and my colleagues in the legislature for coming together to recognize this important issue and keep pets safe, healthy and with their proper owners.”
Assemblyman Steve Otis said, “It is my hope that stiffening the penalty will reduce the number of animal thefts and prevent the cruelty that comes with this serious crime. It is imperative that we deter criminals from stealing household pets.”
The American Kennel Club reports that there were more than 590 thefts of pets in 2013. The penalties, which it claims represents a 31% increase over the number of thefts in 2012. By increasing the maximum fine, this bill aims to deter pet theft.