Six dog thieves sentenced to 3-7 years in prison in southern Vietnam

By VnExpress   May 28, 2017 | 10:53 am GMT+7

Stun-gunned, stuffed in plastics bags and then sent to the butchers for a gruesome end.

A court in the southern province of Tay Ninh sentenced six Vietnamese citizens to 3-7 years in prison for theft on Saturday. The dog ring had been operating in the area for about a month before the arrests, according to Tin Tuc newspaper.

Nguyen Anh Tuan and his wife Nguyen Thi Bach Ngoc allegedly ran a dog meat business in Hoa Thanh District, while Do Thanh Quang, Pham Hoang Lam, Pham Hoang Ngan and Do Trung Hieu were in charge of stealing the dogs.

six-dog-thieves-sentenced-to-3-7-years-in-prison-in-southern-vietnam

Four of the defendants and the dogs found during their arrest. Photo courtesy of the police.

In early December 2016, Quang and Lam approached Tuan and Ngoc and successfully persuaded the couple to help them sell the group's stolen dogs.

Every night, Quang, Lam, Ngan and Hieu would roam the streets of Tay Ninh on two motorbikes and stun any dogs they saw with self-made guns, before packing the unconscious dogs into plastic bags. They would sell the stolen dogs to Tuan and Ngoc for VND35,000-37,000 per kilogram ($1.5-1.6 per 2.2 pounds) and the couple would butcher the dogs and sell the meat to other merchants for VND50,000 per kilogram.

The group was busted when police raided Tuan and Ngoc's establishment on December 23, 2016. A total of 47 dogs were found at the scene, 32 of which were already dead. The dogs weighed a total of 512 kilograms, with a value of around VND26 million ($1,100).

At the court, all six defendants acknowledged their crimes. Quang and Lam were each sentenced to 7 years in prison, Tuan and Ngan both got 5-year sentences while Hieu and Ngoc received 3-year sentences.

Around five million dogs are killed in Vietnam every year, making it the world's second-biggest consumer of dog meat after China, which consumes roughly 20 million.

Consumption has been criticized by many in Vietnam and around the world as most of the dogs are stolen pets that are brutally killed.

Vietnam does not have strong regulations in place to stop the practice. Dog thieves and the people they do business with are rarely punished.

Current laws only treat theft as a criminal offense if the object’s value exceeds VND2 million ($87). Due to rising pressure from both inside and outside the country, legislators are considering a provision that would criminalize pet theft.