Q. What is the legal action to be taken on a complaint of theft of a dog or any other animal?
A . Section 378 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with 'Theft', stating that whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person's consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft. Property, under this section includes 'animals' too. The section itself explains on the matter related to animals. A person, who by any means, causes an animal to move, is said to move that animal without the consent of the owner.
For example: A, being Z's servant and entrusted by Z with the care of his dog, takes the dog and sells it to another party without Z's consent, the act of A will amount to theft. A pet, or any other animal within the possession of the owner is considered to be the property of the owner. And any property taken away from the owner without the consent of the owner, amounts to theft.
Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, penalizes 'Theft'. Under this section, the punishment for theft is imprisonment, of either description, for a term, which may extend to three years, or with a fine, or with both.
So, the procedure will be the same as for any theft case. When a person approaches the police station with a complaint regarding the theft of an animal, the complainant should be encouraged to give a detailed description of the lost animal accompanied, if possible, with a photograph. The complainant has every right to file an F.I.R. and the complaint should be duly recorded as an F.I.R. in the police register, a copy of which should be signed, stamped and dated along with the time and handed over to the complainant. The Duty Officer of the police station is responsible for making all the necessary entries. The charge of theft should be read together with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as forcibly taking an animal out of its environs amounting to cruelty.