Stealing the family dog or cat in New York could soon send a pet thief to prison.

A bill that would make stealing any cat or dog a felony has strong sponsors in the Legislature. It aims to create the toughest law against pet theft in the nation.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick say the measure will elevate the crime to grand larceny from a misdemeanor and eliminate the difficult question of placing a value on a pet.

Conviction could draw four years in prison.

Michigan State University law Professor David Favre said Wednesday that if it's passed, the law would likely be the toughest in the nation. The specialist in animal protection laws said there is a recent trend to raising the legal status of pets.