Orange County, California Puppy Theft Yields No Criminal Charges

A women will not be facing charges for her theft of a chow puppy from a pet store in Orange County, California, after she paid the store and apologized in a note, according to Puppy thief avoids charges after sending pet store $600 and an apology letter.

The suspect was caught on a surveillance video taking a puppy from the store while a male companion distracted the clerk. The case has garnered attention, in part, because the suspect avoid charges by paying the store “in full.” It is not uncommon in theft cases for defendants to seek a dismissal of criminal charges by offering a store a civil compromise under Penal Code section 1377. However, PC 1377 applies to misdemeanor cases. The suspects here stole a dog valued over $400 and were subject to felony commerical burglary charges. So why did the store owners at Pet City ask that the case be dropped, according to the L.A. Times? The reasons is that Pet City only cares about profits, not the dogs they sell.
Animal lovers also may want to ask “What happened to the puppy?”
The theft of animals for sale is big business. According to pet blogger, Teddy Hilton, animal theft is on the rise. One might look to the state of the economy to explain these acts. Whatever reason, the theft of animals is cause for concern. The sale of animals as commodities reflects a belief in our society that animals are no more than property, to be bought and sold… and sometimes stolen. For those of us with companion animals, this can be hard to swallow.

However, the law reinforces these beliefs when it regards animals only as property to be bought and sold. This is the message law enforcement sends when it fails to prosecute on behalf of an animal who was harmed.The law only recognizes the shop owner as victim (which is a whole other story– buying and selling animals in a tiny glass cabinet for profit garners little sympathy from me). The animal is of no more concern to anyone in this story than a stolen pair of shoes from Shoe City, another franchise down the street. I know this is the state of the law. It still makes me sad that no one seems to care much about that missing dog, let alone what causes people to steal dogs in the first place.


Lauren K Johnson is a criminal defense lawyer in Irvine, California. She has extensive experience representing defendants charged with theft crimes, in arranging for civil compromises, and in beating theft charges at trial. She is not particularly interested in representing dognappers at this time. Contact Lauren K Johnson here.