Dognappers spark deadly violence

2011-10-03 13:39

kalahari.com

  • Vietnam
    Learn about the legacy of the Vietnam War; and why America deployed large numbers of troops in... Now R460.00
    buy now
Hanoi - It was already too late when Nguyen Van Cuong heard a neighbour shout "Thief! Thief!" Two men on a motorbike had snatched up his beloved pet dog "Black" and were whizzing away.

Cuong and the neighbour sprinted in vain as the professional dog thieves hurled bricks, one of them slamming into the head of a bystander and killing him.

Similar fights have erupted across Vietnam between dognappers who sell man's best friend to restaurants and fed-up villagers who have increasingly turned to vigilante justice to pursue culprits because there is little police can do.

Mobs have chased down thieves and clubbed them to death - even setting one on fire. But the bandits use everything from bricks to arrows to fend off the villagers and ensure their payday.

"Dog thieves are getting more aggressive - they steal villagers' dogs in broad daylight," said Tran The Thieu, police chief of Hung Dong village in central Nghe An province. "People are very angry to see their dogs stolen and dog thieves are rarely arrested."

Delicacy

Dog meat is a delicacy in Vietnam that's often on the menu at parties, especially in the north. Restaurants specialising in barbecue dog are especially popular at the end of each lunar month when men dine on canine in hopes of purging bad luck.

Dog restaurants in the capital, Hanoi, have boomed as Vietnam has become one of Asia's fastest-developing economies. But as inflation soars, some Vietnamese have looked for creative ways to earn money.

Because dogs typically roam free, they can be easy targets. Live dogs in Hanoi fetch about $6 a kilogramme - a bit more than for live chickens. A 20kg pooch can sell for more than $100 - roughly the monthly salary of an average Vietnamese worker.

It's a good wage for thieves who cruise neighbourhoods on motorbikes, snaring pets quicker than a US car thief can hotwire a Cadillac Escalade. Sometimes, they incapacitate the dogs first by shooting them with darts or arrows pulsating with electric current.

Many Vietnamese are of two minds about dogs. They may rely on the animals to protect their homes and often give them names, but don't consider them to be pseudo-family members as in the West. But that doesn't mean they don't care about their pets.

In Nghe An province, police chief Thieu says dog-related violence is escalating.

Last June, a dognapper was chased and clubbed to death by a mob who then torched his body, leaving the charred remains as a warning on the roadside. Seven villagers were hurt in other incidents there when they pursued thieves who retaliated with knives, bottles and slings.

Charges

Most residents don't even bother calling police.

"Residents say the police just fine these thieves and let them go," Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ho Ba Vo, vice chief investigator in Nghe An, told the newspaper Thanh Nien (Young People).

"It's true. A thief only faces criminal charges when the property involved is worth at least 2 million dong [$97]. A dog is much cheaper than that and the thief is only fined for the attempted theft."

There are no charges specific to dognapping, and the typical fine for petty theft ranges from 1 million to 2 million dong ($50 to $100).

In the southern province of Soc Trang, two men turned themselves into police on September 26, a day after fatally shooting a dog owner through the heart with an arrow as he was chasing them.

The lucrative illegal dog trade also crosses borders.

In September in northern Thailand, police arrested two men trying to smuggle 120 dogs into Vietnam stuffed into bags. In August, 1 800 ailing dogs crammed into cages on a truck also were confiscated in Thailand on their way to Vietnam. Half of them later died, local media reported.

Humane treatment

Scruffy medium-sized dogs are commonly seen jammed into wire cages on backs of motorbikes in Vietnam. They are slaughtered, skinned and roasted, and can be seen dangling from wires outside restaurants, tails straight and teeth bared.

Dog dishes range from barbecues to soups served with pungent shrimp paste. The meat has gamey taste and a venison-like texture.

The tradition, also popular in parts of China, South Korea and the Philippines, faces resistance from animal advocates.

One former US Embassy worker in Hanoi was so revolted by Vietnam's dog restaurants that he started the California-based non-profit Kairos Coalition to promote humane treatment of pets. He said more Vietnamese are developing a Western-style love of pets, which may explain why the dog wars have become so heated.

"You are really witnessing the convergence of two trends," said founder Robert Lucius, noting that his group has partnered with Vietnamese animal rights groups and veterinary students.

"The old way of the dog meat trade, where animals didn't count for much, is coming up against the new trend of keeping true companion animals that are loved, nurtured and valued for their own sake."

Meanwhile, the Hanoian who recently lost the 15-year-old dog he had raised from a pup, said police told him they apprehended the two men who allegedly threw the brick that killed the 54-year-old bystander.

Ambivalence

Cuong said police informed him his animal, identified because of some fur missing on its tail, was sold for 900 000 dong ($45).

"It's very difficult to raise a good and intelligent dog," said Cuong, 54, who estimates he has lost about 10 animals over the years to professional dog thieves. "If I had caught the culprit, I would've beaten him up!"

He epitomises some of Vietnam's ambivalence toward dogs. Asked if he would ever eat his own dogs, Cuong, who has deep-set eyes and a wispy goatee, shook his head fiercely.

"If I want dog meat, I go to a restaurant," he said.
- AP
Read more on:    vietnam  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
14 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

LOL! 7 brutally honest texts from parents

Sometimes honesty is not the best policy!

 
 

For chic geeks...

DuckTales theme song gets 'quacked-up'
7 things you didn't know about Apple
Apple's sneaky move
Facebook testing self-destruction posts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

30% off new fiction books!

Save 30% on new captivating books from great authors such as Wilbur Smith, James Pettereson and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

Camping gear!

We’ve got all your camping must have’s right here at mind blowing low prices. Check them out now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to be too up in the air with your idealistic ideas. Find an anchor to help bring them into a more realistic...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.