Screengrab of footage shared on Twitter

The graphic footage, taken in the early hours of Monday by a security camera, shows two men driving up to a fenced off pen containing three dogs armed with what appears to be electric harpoon guns.

The men broke the chain-link fence and stunned the three dogs with the harpoons. 

* Please note that the graphic content may offend sensitive viewers.

The dog's owner, identified in state media by his initials LMH, can be seen trying to intervene but ran away after being threatened with the harpoons. He did manage to throw a wok at the thieves but missed.

"I was so scared that I went back inside and threw a wok at them before they got on the motorbikes of their waiting partners and drove away with two of my dogs," he told the Tuoi Tre newspaper.

The remaining dog regained consciousness shortly after the thieves fled.

Dogs, whose meat is considered a delicacy in Vietnam, are frequently stolen nationwide.

As the value of stolen goods must exceed 2 million Vietnamese dong (about R1 100) to warrant imprisonment under Vietnamese law, thieves often escape serious punishment as dogs tend to be worth less.

Violent vigilante justice against dog thieves, however, is sometimes reported.