Does removing stray dog from my property in order to protect family, counts as defense against theft of dog.

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Does removing stray dog from my property in order to protect family, counts as defense against theft of dog.

I was injured by stray 110 lb Pit Bull on my property. No dog shelter in county, so I took dog to edge of my property and turned him loose on dirt road. Now I am being charged with theft, because dog was hit by a car and found dead. Need good out-of-town lawyer to help beat Theft and Conversion charges.

Asked on June 16, 2009 under Criminal Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Your first defense is self-defense, and it's a decent one--you were attacked by the dog on your property and would have been within your rights to have shot or otherwise killed it to defend yourself. Evicting it from your property is also well within your rights. (Though in the future, if you have the opportunity, retreat to your home and call the police or animal control and let them deal with it.)

Second, how is it theft? You did not take anything. The dog had no right to be on your property (I am assuming from your question that it had no right to be there) so you simply removed from your property someone else's property that should not have been there. Had someone dropped a coach on your land, you could have moved it off; similarly, you can remove someone else's dog.

Third, unless you drove the car hitting it, you didn't not proximally cause the dog's death.

There does not seem to be any valid case here. You should get an attorney to defend yourself, but any competent attorney should be able to handle this--it's not a tough case. Furthermore, if you were injured, you may wish to countersue the dog's owner for your injury and also move for sanctions against his attorney for bringing a frivolous case.


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