Dognapping 101: What Are Your Legal Options If Your Pet Was Kidnapped?

Dognapping 101: What Are Your Legal Options If Your Pet Was Kidnapped?

Patty Lamberti
Earlier today, Lady Gaga's two dogs were kidnapped.

The incident is nothing to snicker about.  Her dog walker was shot four times. 

The event also highlights a growing crime in America - dognapping.

Some experts say that the crime of dognapping is up 70% since 2010.

It's unclear if the dognapper was motivated by Lady Gaga's celebrity status, or if the dogs' breeds were the draw.

Her dogs, French bulldogs, retail up to $8000 each, according to Newsweek

Designer breeds can fetch a few thousand dollars

Another number that may not be accounted for in official statistics? 

Pets who are "taken" by one person when a couple splits up. Sometimes, the issue of pet ownership is officiallly decided in court or through mediation. 

But other times, the pet is just another object to fight over, no different than a vase or computer.  

Is dognapping a real crime? 



In most states, the crime is technically categorized as theft or grand theft. But it may be classified as burglary if the dognapper broke into a home to take the dog.

Only 15 states consider dognapping a criminal matter. 


  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Louisiana
  5. Michigan
  6. Mississippi
  7. New Hampshire
  8. New York
  9. North Carolina
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Rhode Island
  12. Virginia
  13. Texas
  14. Washington
  15. West Virginia

What if the pet is part of a breakup?

Some states are vague about deciding who gets the family pet. In some states, if domestic violence has been proven the judge can award the pet to the person who has been abused.

But if domestic violence isn't an issue, pet custody becomes less clear. 

That's why one of our lawyers can help you advocate for your pet. 

In some states, dognapping is considered a felony.

Virginia issues the most severe penalties for dog theft. Offenders can get ten years in jail for stealing a dog. 

Why would anyone steal a dog anyway? 

Revenge. Ransom (Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward, no questions asked, for the safe return of her dogs).

Often, stolent dogs are sold to unsuspecting people who are looking to add a dog toto their homes.

Sometimes, dogs are used for medical purposes.

In the worst case scenario, these dogs are used to fight other dogs in matches.

According to Canine Journal, these breeds fetch the most money when it comes to the illegal sale and purchase of dogs:

  1. Yorkshire Terrier
  2. Pomeranian
  3. Maltese
  4. Boston Terrier
  5. French Bulldog
  6. Chihuahua
  7. Labradoodle
  8. American Pit Bull Terrier
  9. German Shepherd
  10. Labrador Retriever

Our lawyers can help you if your pet has been taken - by a stranger or someone you know. It can be a serious crime, and you - and your pet - deserve a fair, impartial voice in the outcome. 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

Patty Lamberti

Find My Lawyer

Start by selecting your legal need:
Business / Employment

Business / Employment

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Real Estate / Housing

Real Estate / Housing

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"I was able to find just the right lawyer for my case. It was easy to use."

Lucy Coutinho


Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"Very easy for me to get connected with an experienced attorney."

Robert Knox Jr


Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"It was super easy. It was super fast and I got connected pretty quickly."

Lenasia Smalls


Client Testimonial - Triso Valls
LawChamps Reviews

"It’s easy to register and match with a lawyer according to your legal [need]."

Triso Valls


Ready To Get Started?

Find Your Lawyer NowLawChamps Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Put Aside Guilt or Innocence for a Minute. Cosby Is a F...

Patty Lamberti | 28 July, 2021

There’s only one reason Bill Cosby was released from prison. It’s not that he’s a celebrity. It’s because he’s rich. Our entire judicial ...

Read More Arrow Icon

Who Can I Sue If I'm Injured By a Drunk Driver?

Michelle Patrick | 16 July, 2021

The statistics for drunk driving in the United States are staggering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 28 people ar...

Read More Arrow Icon

How to Expunge a Marijuana Record in Michigan

Scott Dylan Westerlund | 23 June, 2021

Michigan made moves to legalize marijuana years ago, yet 250,000 Michigan residents are still plagued by marijuana convictions from their past. Are you one of them? If...

Read More Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Hire One, Help Another

LawChamps donates a portion of our revenue, investing it back into funding justice reform organizations and subsidizing the legal fees for those who cannot afford them.
Learn More