Q: Took neighbor's hypothermic puppy but left a note. Can they charge me with theft? Dog was returned.
I didn't want to call animal control on them because they typically take good care of their animals. It was a short-haired puppy and the temp was below 20 degrees. It was shaking violently while sitting in the snow. I rung the doorbell and knocked, but no one was home. It was dusk, and about to get much colder, so I grabbed the puppy and took it home with me. I left them a note with why, where I live and my phone number. I figured they left the dog out by mistake or it got out and I was doing them a favor, as I didn't think they'd leave it out in the cold on purpose. I was wrong. I also understand my mistake and will simply call animal control with any concerns in the future.
My question is if I should be concerned about being charged with theft? Would it be a felony or a misdemeanor if I am?
A: Technically, yes, you could be charged with theft. It would be up to the responding police officer whether to charge you or not. It would most likely be a misdemeanor unless they claim the dog is worth more than a few hundred dollars. I think your statement that you should call animal control next time is correct. Also, be careful about what you post online because IF you ARE charged, it could be used against you in court.
A: I can't tell from your post whether or not you decided to keep the dog or give it back. I've represented good Samaritans who have gotten sick and tired of animal control not doing anything in response to such calls who took matters into their own hands. They didn't return the animals they took because of evidence of neglect. If you are contacted by police it's a good idea to have already talked to a lawyer.
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