In a rare case of a dog thief suffering something other than a cash fine or a brutal beating, a court in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau sentenced Nguyen Hau Em, 22, to one year in jail on Thursday.
Em was caught with four live dogs and two dead ones on July 18.
Their value was estimated at VND2.75 million (US$130)--well beyond the VND2 million threshold for criminal charges that usually saves dognappers from doing time.
Many have blamed the light punishments meted out to dog thieves for pushing whole communities to brutal mob justice in the rare instances when they're caught.
Police arrested Em and his accomplice, Nguyen Van Thang, with a sack filled with dogs they'd caught using a stun gun.
Thang managed to escape and police put out a warrant for his capture.
Several hundred locals attended Em's public trial in the beach town near Ho Chi Minh City.
The ever-increasingly popularity of dog meat restaurants fuels the crimes while inspiring a growing rash of violence. Hundreds of people in Dong Nai Province, 35 kilometers to the northeast of HCMC, beat a suspected dog thief unconscious on July 1.
A number of dog thieves were murdered by mobs in the north-central province of Quang Tri in 2012, the northern province of Hai Duong in May 2013 and Thanh Hoa Province the following month.
The violence has done little to deter thieves.
In June, four dog thieves in HCMC killed three teenage vigilantes during a high-speed chase.
The dog thieves, who later turned themselves in, confessed to electrocuting their pursuers (all riding on a single motorbike) with an improvised stun gun they'd used to catch dogs.
The shock caused the vigilantes, who were trying to stab the fleeing thieves, to crash into an electric pole.