The talks with two dog thieves

VietNamNet Bridge - We had a conversation with two young men who have been dog thieves for seven years. They agreed to answer our questions, on the condition that we not ask their name. They also wore masks.  

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The No. 1 man usually sits behind a motorcycle to catch dogs and the No. 2 man specializes in driving.

dog thieves, dog theft 

Dogs in a cage in Son Dong village in Thanh Hoa province. This village provides dogs to restaurants in many northern provinces.

- Why do you do this job?

No. 1: I lost at gambling and I had to balance income and expenses for the family. I know this is illegal, but I was born inferior to others. I'm uneducated and do not have a stable job.

No. 2: This job brings money to us. Just do it a little bit at night and early morning, we have VND1 or VND2 million ($50-100) while working hard all day, we could earn only VND200,000 ($10).

- Several dog thieves were beaten to death by angry people, aren’t you scared?

No. 1: I'm frightened. But if I do this job then I have to accept it.

- Why don’t you get something else, not just dogs?

It is easy to catch dogs. In the countryside all households raise dogs. If we are arrested, the penalty is only probation for the first time.

- Have you ever been arrested?

Not yet!

- Have you ever been in a confrontation with someone?

No. 1: A few years ago this guy (pointing to No. 2) and I were almost caught once. We always take a knife with us. That time, probably locals lost many dogs so they lied in wait for us, so there were up to seven people holding sticks, knives, and swords chasing us.

I got a very painful blow on the shoulder. I fell down to the field but I was lucky to be able the stand up immediately. I waved the knife but did not hit anyone and we left our motorcycle there to run. That time we lost our motorcycle.

- In many cases the dog thieves were beaten to death. When you are in such a dangerous situation, can you kill the pursuers?

In a situation if we do not kill them, they will kill us, I will do anything to protect myself.

- So just because of a dog, you can kill a person?

No one wants that, but in a life-and-death situation, a man has to do everything that he has to do.

- Do you have dogs?

They both nod.

- If your dog were stolen, how would you feel?

Of course I would be angry, but if you can’t protect your belongings, you have to accept losing it.

- So how many dogs have you caught so far?

No. 1: Many. Seven years equals 84 months, with at least 50 dogs a month, so it is more than 4,000 dogs.

- So many! How is this number compared with other people in the profession?

It depends. Some people quit this job forever after one to two years. Some return to this job after failing to do other jobs. Some work 20 nights a month. We go out at night very often.

- Everyone hates dog thieves. Do you know that?

No. 1: I know! They take care of their dogs for a long time and lose them. Anyone could be angry.

- Are you concerned about the ones who lose their dog? Maybe the dog is a pet?

No. 1: I do not care. At night the dogs go out for a pee, go shit, and we catch them. We do not need to know who is its master!

- The dog is in pain and it cries and moans. Do you feel pity for it?

No. 1: A little. Sometimes I hear them cry, I feel guilty. I knew that I did an illegal act, but I had to correct myself immediately. I have been doing this job for a long time, so I feel it normal. I have to accept it.

- Where do you sell the dogs?

This is a 'trade secret'. I should not say publicly, but I will tell.

The dogs I catch in Hanoi are sold in Ha Tay and those that are caught in Ha Tay are sold in Ha Nam.

- To whom?

For those who purchase dogs, dog slaughterhouses or dog meat restaurants. We know each other very well.

- Do you have any plans for the future?

We have discussed this issue. We are going to give up this job to find some stable work.

- Do you think that dog stealing is on the rise in Vietnam today?

There are fewer dogs than in the past. Vietnam is developing. The rural areas are becoming urban areas, towns are becoming cities. Most houses now have gates, so it is harder to catch dogs than before.

No. 2: Catching dogs is like going fishing. On lucky days we can catch five dogs, on normal days, one or two, and sometimes nothing.

- How can you compare it to go fishing? Stealing someone’s dog makes them angry.

I mean the erratic feature like fishing. Iit is similar to  fishing in another way: if you go fishing to one place many times, you then have to move to a new place.

- Describe how you catch a dog?

No. 1: When seeing a dog, the driver must be very focused and approach the dog. I sit behind and will catch the dog with a stick with a brake wire at the top. The driver has to speed up. I will pull the dog for 5-7 meters until it is tired and then collect the wire to pull it to the motorcycle. Then I cover its mouth with tape, tie its four legs and put it into a sack.

Everything must happen fast, without any sound.

- When was the last time you caught a dog?

Last night.

- How many dogs did you catch last night?

Last night we caught three dogs. They are small so we had only 50 kilos of meat.

- Thank you for talking so openly. I hope that you both will find a good job in the future!

Doan Bao Chau

dog thieves, dog theft