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.
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