Table of Contents

dog stealingThe bond between humans and their canine companions is one of deep affection and loyalty. However, conflicts may arise, leading to disputes over the ownership of a dog. In such cases, it is essential to understand the legal framework surrounding pet ownership and the repercussions of engaging in illegal activities.


Due to the increased demand and decreased supply of purebred and designer dogs during the pandemic, the prices of dogs have surged. Unfortunately, this situation has created opportunities for offenders to exploit the market, leading to a rise in dog theft cases. Media reports indicate that dogs are being specifically targeted for the purpose of being sold on the black market.


Incidents of dog theft have been reported from various locations, including outside supermarkets and restaurants, from backyards, inside homes, and even doggy daycare facilities. Disturbingly, even therapy dogs have allegedly fallen victim to these thefts.


However, it is important to note that due to limited reliable data beyond what is presented in media reports, the full extent and nature of dog theft across Australia remain unknown.


In NSW, dogs are considered property under the law. As such, the theft of a dog is treated similarly to the theft of any other item of personal property. The dog’s owner has legal rights and protections, and anyone who takes or retains a dog without authorisation can be held accountable for their actions.


The Crimes Act 1900 provides legal provisions regarding theft, including the theft of a dog. Section 148 of the Act states that a person who steals any property, including a dog, is guilty of an offence. This offence carries penalties that can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the circumstances and the value of the stolen property. The specific section however for the stealing of a dog is section 132 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).


Available Defences


There are several defences that can be used against the charge, such as:


  • Duress, which means you were forced or coerced into committing the act.
  • Claim of right, where you honestly believed that you had a legal entitlement to the property.

Penalty for Stealing someone’s dog in NSW


Under section 132 Crimes Act 1900 NSW;


  • Whosoever, having been summarily convicted under this or any former Act, of any such offence as is hereinafter in this section mentioned, afterwards,
  • steals any dog, or
  • has unlawfully in his or her possession any stolen dog, or the skin of any stolen dog, knowing such dog to have been stolen, shall be liable to imprisonment for one year.

Factors the Court Takes Into Account on a Guilty Plea


There are various factors that the court must take into account while determining an appropriate sentence. These factors encompass:


  • The monetary value attributed to the stolen dog.
  • Whether the act of stealing the dog was premeditated or impulsive.
  • The motivation behind the theft: whether it was driven by financial gain or an emotional attachment to the dog.
  • Whether the dog endured mistreatment following its theft.

During a suspected crime spree in Sydney’s south, a teenager in 2021 faced charges after reportedly stealing a puppy and engaging in multiple car thefts. The 16-year-old boy allegedly took an eight-week-old puppy called Teddy, along with several cars, in a series of thefts that occurred throughout Sutherland Shire.

He was refused bail by the NSW Police and subsequently appeared before the Childrens Court.

Reporting Dog Theft and Seeking Legal Recourse

Contact the Police


Report the theft to the local police station, providing as much information as possible, including descriptions, photographs, microchip details, and any evidence of ownership.


Inform Local Veterinary Clinics and Animal Shelters


Notify nearby veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and rescue organisations about the stolen dog. Share relevant information and photographs to increase the chances of identification and recovery.


Spread the Word


Utilise social media platforms and local community groups to raise awareness about the stolen dog. Share details, photographs, and contact information to reach a wider audience and increase the chances of locating the pet.


Seek Legal Advice


Consult with a criminal defence lawyer experienced in animal law to understand your rights, the legal options available, and the best course of action to recover your stolen dog.


In NSW, stealing someone’s dog is considered a criminal offence under the Crimes Act 1900. It carries legal consequences, including potential criminal charges, fines, and imprisonment. Additionally, perpetrators may face civil liability and damage to their reputation. If your dog is stolen, it is crucial to report the theft to the police, inform local veterinary clinics and animal shelters, and seek legal advice to maximise the chances of recovery and hold the responsible person accountable.


If you have been charged with a dishonestly offence, it is important to obtain legal advice for the preparation of your matter. Contact our fraud lawyers in Sydney immediately.

Going To Court?

Send An Online Enquiry

“Thank you Lyons Law Group on providing me an exceptional service delivered with care, compassion and a high level of professionalism. The outcome was more than what I had expected. A true reflection of your legal expertise and experience. Thank you Mohammad and team.”
Layalle Itaoui


  • Lyons Law Group | Criminal Defence Lawyers

    Lyons Law Group is a boutique firm of expert criminal solicitors and barristers. Lyons Law Group is dedicated to strong advocacy when representing its clients with an approach that is tailored to every client’s specific needs.