The punishment for stealing dogs -- or any domesticated animal -- varies from state to state. In Texas, there are specific laws related to the theft of a dog, and additional legislature that would further criminalize animal theft is pending. Citizens of Texas who wish to have input on the additional criminalizing of animal theft are encouraged to contact their representatives.
The current punishment for stealing a dog depends on the value of the animal. The theft of a purebred dog, for example, would likely garner a stronger punishment than that of a mutt or mixed breed. The crime is considered a Class C misdemeanor, the punishment for which is a maximum $500 fine and no jail time.
In 2008, State Rep. Eddie Lucio III proposed HB 435, which would make the stealing of a pet a felony. This would allow violators to be punished with up to two years of jail time and be forced to pay a much higher fine. At the end of the legislative session, however, the bill was still pending in subcommittee.
In the 2011 session, HB 1102 was proposed by Lucio. It is essentially the same as HB 435; it makes the theft of a pet, regardless of breed, a state felony. The passage of this bill would allow judges to sentence pet thieves with 180 days to two years of jail time, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
As of publication, the bill remains pending in committee.
Though HB 1102 could aggressively change the nature of punishment for stealing a dog in Texas, there have been many other bills in the past that have also changed the rules or pet ownership significantly. In 2007, for example, Governor Rick Perry signed into law HB 2328, which created separate offenses for cruelty to livestock and non-livestock animals.
The first animal cruelty law in Texas was enacted in 1973, followed by several revisions in 1997, 2001 and 2003.
HB 1102 has been pending since March 2011, but Texas citizens can voice their opinions on making dog stealing a felony by contacting members of the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. The list of committee members, as well as information for reaching the clerk of the committee, can be found on the Texas House of Representatives' website.