Police in Hanoi have summoned four people they suspect of being involved in the killing of an alleged dog thief on Thursday, another brutal episode of mob justice versus pet kidnappers in Vietnam.
Villagers in Phu Xuyen District on the city’s outskirts chased after two dog thieves on Thursday afternoon after the duo had managed to steal five dogs from local families, an investigation found.
The two men dropped their weapons in a panic which were then picked up and used by the villagers to kill one of thieves, aged 28.
His accomplice, 38, escaped and ran to a government office for help.
Vietnam is estimated to consume five million dogs per year which is second only to the 20 million dogs killed for meat in China.
Many of the dogs are stolen pets sold to small, unregulated abattoirs and killed in a barbaric fashion, making dog thieves some of the biggest public enemies in Vietnam.
Yet they are rarely punished, and nor are the people who buy and sell stolen meat.
Vietnamese law only treats theft as a criminal offense if the object stolen is worth more than VND2 million, less than $100. Due to rising pressure both inside and outside the country, legislators are considering a provision that would criminalize the theft of pets.
For now, vigilante mobs often justify their actions, which sometimes prove fatal, to the lack of legal repercussions for the crime.
“They deserve it!” is the comment often given in media reports about dog thieves being assaulted or killed in Vietnam.