Why do people choose to steal other peoples’ dogs?
Facebook is awash with photos of dogs that have been taken and desperate pleas from their loving owners/parents, and it’s heart breaking.
Having always believed that if we understand the psychology behind a persons actions (drug use, self-harm, shop lifting) we can begin to help people. I wanted to know more about this most distressing crime wave and it’s increase.
Taking someone else’s dog seems to be in another realm of criminal activity. We know from research that the increase over the last year of stealing someone else’s pet is due to people taking loved pets to be sold to other loving pet owners – so it’s for money!
Prior to this pandemic there were (and still are) other horrendous outcomes for the Pet.
Wanting to understand the why – what are the possible reasons a human would choose this type of crime?
If we look at Social psychological theories they can help explain a dog-thief’s crimes, these theories look at individual factors, such as inadequate socialization and negative early childhood experiences, that can result in criminal thinking patterns (reference).
Are all Pet thieves – Narcissistic? One characteristic of is a Narcissist is: Sense of entitlement another is: Exploits others without guilt or shame. Is it too easy to label someone with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to excuse behaviour?
According to the social learning theory, the thief may have learned to steal for profit from his family or friends. Or perhaps sociological theories could explain the dog-thief’s need for crime – these theories are describe crime in terms of the social environment, including the family, school, peer group, workplace, community, and society (reference).
Whatever the reason a person who chooses to steal a loved pet. they are committing a crime that impacts on the victim (the dog and the owner/parent).
This is not a victimless crime.
Having worked in addictions services for many years and talking to people about their feelings around the various criminal activity they may choose (to make money to buy drugs) (shop lifting, stealing fuel from cars, stealing cars) the similarity in 95% of people I worked with is that they saw the crimes they committed as ‘victimless’. Because the crime doesn’t involve emotional harm – people justified their crime by stating that they only took materialistic things – there was no emotional attachment and that people should have insurance that covered the materials they took! this could lead onto another emotive debate, so I’ll leave this debate here.
People who steal other peoples’ pets are indeed (from some people’s perspective) stealing a member of their family. Can you imagine the pain, (as a non-dog owner I can). Does committing this horrendous crime mean that a dog thief should be pitied, for they must lack any compassion, or have a significant mental impairment, or psychological impairment or should they be feared because they have no conscious?
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