HANOI, Vietnam — Here in Vietnam, dogs are more than just pets. They’re a delicacy.
And profiting from the nation’s appetite for dog meat, thieves are stealing pets from homes and selling them off for easy money.
Every year, roughly 5 million dogs are served up on Vietnamese dinner plates. Dog isn’t an everyday meal — it’s more like a rare treat. Eating dog isn’t exactly hip, but it’s still popular, especially with the older generation.
Most of the dogs are supplied by poor villagers, who sell off their farm dogs for some extra cash. Until recently, Thailand was also an underground source, smuggling half a million dogs to Vietnam each year. But a 2013 government crackdown on imported dogs hit the market hard. It left Vietnam’s dog meat traders scrambling to find a new source of live canines.
They turned to pets. Almost overnight, stealing dogs took off as a way for petty criminals to score quick cash.
Dog thieves feed a traditional demand for dog-meat meals, but the trade is facing pushback from a new generation that doesn’t see dogs as food. They see their pets as family members, and pamper them like children.
Now, they're fighting back against the thieves who poach their beloved companions.