Did a Texas woman steal a dog or save a mistreated pet? A TikTok video of a dog rescue went viral, sparking a debate of whether it’s ok to steal an assumed abused animal.

Coming across a poorly cared for pup in a neighboring yard is a sadly familiar scenario for many dog lovers, especially in a “city of strays” like Houston, Texas. But when dog rescuer Samantha Zimmer found herself in that exact situation, she controversially took matters into her own hands.

In a video uploaded to her TikTok account, @streetlifetothesweetlife, a large dog rests its head on a dashboard, panting heavily as a text overlay reads:

“Googling statute of limitations on theft in Texas,” 

The clip rewinds to moments later when Samantha Zimmer, recorded by her partner, is seen leading a dog away from a house when an unseen neighbor interjects.

“Are you taking that dog?”

“Do what?” asks Zimmer, adding, “Yeah.”

“It belongs to my neighbor,” the neighbor insists.

“Look at her. She looks like she has never eaten,” responds Zimmer, undeterred. “She’s matted. She probably has heart worms. She can’t breathe.” With Zimmer’s partner pointing how emaciated the dog is as well.

The dog was named “Bertha” and, sadly, would pass away a few months later from heart worms.

But despite her short life, Bertha’s story struck a cord on TikTok, the viral video has since surpassed one million views, though not everyone is a fan of the possible misdemeanor. But while some TikTokers argue that “it’s not moral to steal no matter what kind of tik tok she makes to celebrate stealing.”, most are in support of Zimmer’s methods.

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“I’ll steal every animal I find that isn’t being taken care of. I’ve taken at least 2 different cats from shit owners,” a TikToker replied. “And I’d do it again.”

“I took my dog from a backyard after she was left in a tiny kennel during hurricane Laura,” another commented. “And then for a week after while the family was evacuated.”

Would you have taken this dog in this situation?

However the debate hasn’t seemed to faze Samantha Zimmer. After all, it’s not her first time stepping into dog rescue no matter the challenge nor her first time in the viral spotlight. Back in early March 2021, Zimmer gained attention when she rescued a stray pack of dogs before a snow storm. Well-wishers all over social media were smitten with Boomer, a shy pittie mix, who was introduced to love and care by Zimmer, transforming that former street dog into a spoiled house puppy.

Zimmer letting a tentative Boomer know that it is safe to come inside.

Even now, Samantha Zimmer’s profile is packed with dog rescue stories such as the current saga of Austin, a Shepard mix hit by a car, left by the side of the road, and who just got some positive news from the vet.

But the heroic work of Samantha Zimmer and their network of fosters doesn’t mean taking a stranger’s pet is the first right choice. We recommend starting with proper channels by checking local laws and ordinances, researching basic dog care to confidently judge the situation, and keeping a list of local rescues and fosters to call for any questions that might come up. 

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