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07/23/2014 04:45 pm ET | Updated Sep 22, 2014

New York Increases Penalty For 'Particularly Heartless Offense' Of Pet Theft

Mollie Reilly

NEW YORK, July 23 (Reuters) - Stealing someone else's pet in New York state became five times more expensive on Wednesday after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law increasing the fine to $1,000.

The fine, which had not been increased since 1970 when it was set at $200, applies to anyone caught stealing or harming someone else's pet.

"For many New Yorkers, a pet can be an extension of their family," Cuomo said in a statement, "which is why pet theft is a particularly heartless offense."

The American Kennel Club, which supported the legislation, says thefts of pet dogs are on the rise: 609 dogs were stolen across the country in 2013, according to its survey of police data and media reports, a 33 percent increase from 2012.

The Kennel Club does not track thefts of cats or other pets, data for which were not immediately available. All animals kept as pets are covered by the law.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Eric Beech)

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