Is stealing ever right?

So, I have a conundrum.

Now, of the various Quaker testimonies, the one I have had the absolute most trouble with is that of Integrity.  I am not a compulsive liar, but I tell tons of “little white lies” all the time, for no apparent reason.  One of my 101 goals is to go for two days without lying.  I suspect that it will actually be one of the most difficult goals on the list for me.  When I was a kid, I never cheated in class, but I used to do things like pick locks for fun, steal the belongings of friends and then see if I could return them without them noticing, etc.  I have always been an adrenaline junkie and I am very glad that I somehow managed to nip the thieving bug in the bud (in my year between highschool and college, actually), before it actually became a problem of actual danger.  Even still, while I have absolutely no desire to actually steal anything (I’ve never coveted something enough to want to put my liberty at risk), I do often pause, when looking at a given situation or item, and think about how I would do it.  I have spent years trying to squelch those thoughts to no avail, so I just try and make sure that it never passes the line from fantasy to actual plan.

That said, I have a conundrum.  Despite all of that coaching myself that “stealing is bad”, I think I need to steal a dog.  Yes, “need to”.  Yes, a dog.

You see, there was a stray who lives at a nearby temple, that Marc and I met.  He’s friendly, but has clearly been abused.  I fed him a few times a week for a month, but then went away on vacation, and was considering adopting him when I got back.  Well, I went to feed him a couple days ago, and it seems that someone has chained him up.  Now, I had previously asked at the 4 houses in the little hamlet to check and make sure he was nobody’s.  Yep, nobody’s.  So, clearly, someone must have decided they wanted him.  Sounds great, right?  Well, the problem is that as a stray, he was at least able to scavenge from the local restaurant, and drink from the river, in addition to the food I brought him.  His current owners, however, are not feeding him at all.  He is thinner than ever, and is ecstatic to see me when I bring him food and water (I sneak into their backyard almost every evening, after work).  I went by yesterday, and he had clearly caught a bird, and was eating the remains.  This dog is slowly starving to death.

So, I am now caught in this decision over whether it is worse to steal the dog, or to let it continue to be mistreated.  I definitely am leaning more towards stealing it, as it feels more like saving than stealing, but still.  It is a difficult decision.  Part of it is that while yes, I can continue feeding it in their backyard, once I leave Korea, or when I go away for the whole month of February, it will go right back to a slow path toward death.

I would love some advice or guidance.

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8 Responses to “Is stealing ever right?”


  1. 1 Tania August 31, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Do they have anything like our animal control?

    I would take the dog. It’s questionable whether pets are able to be owned anyways.

  2. 2 Driftingfocus August 31, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Hahaha. No. This is the country that eats dogs. Though, not on this island, as all the dogs on the island are one breed, and it’s protected.

  3. 3 Jaya Johanna September 1, 2008 at 1:20 am

    so what are you going to do with your liberated dog when you leave in february? just know that if you take it, that small town could turn against you. bad. listen and pray, and don’t get caught up in terminology like “stealing.” it’s just a word. you know the weight of the situation.

  4. 4 Driftingfocus September 1, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I would take it home. As I said, I was planning on adopting it, before the person took it. I had already done research on the process of taking it back, and it’s actually pretty easy. The US has no quarantine for Korea – you just have to prove it has its shots.

    Oh, that small town is half an hour away from the place I live. It’s not somewhere I go except to feed this dog.

  5. 5 Driftingfocus September 1, 2008 at 7:25 am

    As for February, I would have to talk to Marc, but I’m pretty sure he would take it for the 3 months until I got home. His apartment allows dogs (he looked for one that did), and he has met the dog before and liked it.

  6. 6 Suzy September 6, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Hey, take it.
    It is not OK to abuse an animal. Leave a little money tucked in the door, if that would make it feel less like stealing. That’s my 2 cents worth.

  7. 7 kisekileia October 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I’d take it. Sometimes, one important value must take priority over another. It takes integrity to uphold your highest values even when that requires going against lesser ones.

  8. 8 dealingaces December 8, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I would free it. I am a much more aggressive person, though, and would free the dog, get it safe, but re-attach the chain and pour blood and scraps onto it. Someone knows who put that dog in that situation, and they all see it and do nothing. Something that horrific seeming would force them to see it. If they chose not to learn, their own selves be damned.

    If saving it is not an option, some form of sleeping pill overdose would be more humane than starvation.


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