The Hanoi government urged its citizens to give up dog meat. Photo by iStock.

One man was arrested in Hau Giang, Vietnam, on Saturday and charged with stealing dogs and selling them to restaurants, but his accomplices managed to flee.

Phung Minh Tam, 33, was arrested with the bodies of four dogs he was allegedly delivering to a restaurant. He had reportedly shot and killed the animals with a stun gun.

The dogs were to be sold to local restaurants early in the morning on Saturday, VN Express. Phung was spotted with two accomplices who were carrying another three dogs. The others ran away.

In Vietnam, dog theft is rarely treated as a crime unless the dogs are worth more than VND2 million (US$86) each. The country is the world’s second-largest consumer of dog meat, with five million canines consumed every year.

The Hanoi government recently urged residents to stop eating dog and cat meat, stressing the effects on hygiene and international reputation.

Read: Hanoi vows to eliminate all dog meat restaurants by 2021

Read: Hanoi asks its residents to stop eating dog meat