Ho Chi Minh City: Gangs in Vietnam are regularly kidnapping dogs and other pets to collect ransom or reselling them to operators of meat markets.
"If they are common dogs or cats, they nearly always send them to restaurants, but if the animals are breeds, they try to resell them as pets or demand ransom from the owner. I've seen desperate people pay up to $1,000 to recover their dog," veterinarian Nguyen Van Nghia told EFE.
Nghia has helped negotiate the freedom of dozens of pets in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon.
The veterinarian advises victims not to pay ransom to avoid encouraging these types of crimes, but he is aware that the majority of people end up giving in and paying to get a favourite animal back.
Nghia said it had not always been like this and recalled how in towns in northern Vietnam residents banded together years ago to catch dognappers.
"In the north, they catch (dogs), especially to eat them. It's a habit that people who have money but lack education have. They believe it will bring them luck or improve their sexual performance," the veterinarian said.