Anyone who knows me, knows I think that having a pet can do wonders for your mental health. What’s why I am happy to report that the legislature has specifically expanded the crime of “theft of dogs” to now include the theft of any “Companion Animal.”
According to the Humane Society of the United States, "the exact number of stolen or ransomed animals per year is unknown, as reporting to law enforcement is inconsistent. For the incidents that are reported, there is no national system to compile the data. However, the Animal Legal Defense fund estimates 2 million pets are stolen on average each year in the United States.”
Prior to this change in the law, Penal Code 491 specifically addressed the fact that dogs were “personal property” and thus the act of stealing them constituted the crime of theft. The legislature has now clarified that stealing any companion animal is theft, defining "companion animal" as an animal that a person keeps or provides care for as a household pet or for the purpose of companionship, emotional support, service, or protection." Excluded from being a “companion animal,” however, are “feral cats” which are “a cat without owner identification of any kind whose usual and consistent temperament is extreme fear and resistance to contact with people. In short, a feral cat is totally unsocialized to people.” (Food & Ag. Code §31752.5.)
 Pen. Code §484 states that every person who steals, takes, carries, leads, or drives away the personal property of another, or who fraudulently appropriates property which has been entrusted to them, or who knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defrauds any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, is guilty of theft.
Finally! A change in the law that we all can get behind. Perhaps there is no one law that is ignored by more people than the “crime” of jaywalking, but effective in 2024, that “crime” almost entirely goes away. Under what is being called the “Freedom to Walk Act,” law enforcement will not be allowed to ticket for Jaywalking-type infractions, unless there is immediate danger of a collision.
Of note, the law will state: “A peace officer … shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation of [certain infractions listed below] unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an im-mediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or [specified] device.…”
The infractions alluded to above are:
• VC 21451(c) and (d), and VC 21955, which requires pedestrians to cross the street on a green light, using the crosswalk.
• VC 21452 (b), which requires pedestrians to not enter the roadway on a yellow light.
• VC 21453 (d) which prohibiuts pedestrians from entering the roadway on a red light.
• VC 21456 (a)(1) to (a)(3), which requires compliance with the signage regarding the “Walk, “Walking Person,” “Don’t Walk,” “Wait,” or “Upraised Hand” signals
• VC 21461.5, which requires pedestrians to obey signs and signals.
• VC 21462 which requires pedestrians to obey applicable traffic signals, with exceptions.
• VC 21950, which requires pedestrians to use due care, and prohibits (1) dangerous actions while in a crosswalk, and (2) unnecessarily stopping or delay traffic.
• VC 21953, which requires pedestrians to yield to hazardous vehicles where there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead.
• VC 21954, which requires pedestrians on a roadway, other than within a crosswalk, at an intersection to yield to all vehicles that are an immediate hazard.
VC 212956, which requires pedestrians to walk only close to the left-hand roadway edge
• VC 21966, which prohibits pedestrians [from using a bicycle path where there is an adjacent pedestrian facility.
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