Suspected members of a gang of dog thieves detained by Thanh Hoa police, September 2019. Photo courtesy of Thanh Hoa Police.
Jail terms of between 26 and 30 months were handed to seven suspects in central Thanh Hoa Province for stealing dozens of dogs.
Le Thi Phuong, 35, the gang leader, was jailed for 30 months at the Monday trial for directing the theft of dozens of dogs, though earlier media reports had said the arrested suspects had confessed to stealing thousands.
Using her own home in the central province as the base for the gang, she provided tools like tape, wire and bags and paid the members VND45,000-VND50,000 ($1.93-$2.15) per kilogram for the stolen canines.
According to the indictment, the gang stole 21 dogs, totaling around 253kg and worth around VND17.71 million ($760), last September.
At the time of arrest, media reports had said that police found 51 dogs and the gang had admitted to having stolen thousands since the beginning of last year, totaling an estimated 100 tonnes.
After the arrest, dozens of dogs were reunited with their owners, while those who didn’t were either temporarily taken care of by police or taken to dog rescue centers for adoption.
Vietnam consumes an estimated five million dogs a year, second only to China’s 20 million. Many dogs cooked at restaurants are stolen pets sold to small, unregulated abattoirs.
Dog theft is treated as a crime only when a canine is valued at more than VND2 million ($86). Vietnam has no law against trading in and consuming dog meat.