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66-year-old man gets 16-year sentence for killing suspected dog thief

By NICK GARCIA Published Dec 12, 2022 11:21 am

Warning: This story deals with animal cruelty.

A man from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam got sentenced to 16 years in prison for killing somebody he alleged of stealing his dog last year.

Local media VnExpress reported that Lai Van Tho, 66, suspected Vo Thanh Trung and his group of friends of dog theft last Sept. 7, 2021. Tho and his two sons confronted Trung's group.

Trung's group, however, brought out tasers and knives. In response, Tho and his sons picked up bamboo sticks and pickaxes according to VnExpress.

The group tried to flee and jump into a canal in Binh Chanh District, VnExpress reported. Trung swam to the other side, but turned around as more people were waiting for him.

Tho, who was standing on the bank, repeatedly hit Trung on the head with a bamboo stick and didn't allow him to get out of water. Trung, then, died of drowning.

During his hearing, Tho admitted to hitting Trung, but said he didn't have the intention to kill.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court sentenced Tho with murder.

Dog theft is common in Vietnam, with the country being a large consumer of dog meat. About five million dogs are slaughtered in Vietnam yearly for human consumption, the Asia Canine Protection Alliance said in a 2015 infographic.

Many dogs served at restaurants come from small and unregulated slaughterhouses, VnExpress reported.

Dog theft is rarely treated as a criminal offense, unless the dogs are valued at over two million Vietnamese dong (P4,700). As a result, many dog owners have the tendency to take the law into their own hands.

A Bangkok Post report in April 2014 said some 70 residents from Vietnamese capital Hanoi beat two suspected dog thieves. In August 2012, their 10 fellow residents beat two other suspected dog thieves.

In 2019, local animal welfare charity Fight Dog Meat reported that two men were sentenced to five years in prison for murdering a dog thief on Christmas Eve.

Last April, VnExpress also reported that a man ran down two suspected dog thieves with his car, killing one of them.