OREGON COUNTY -- Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward said there have been no reports of dogs being stolen recently in the county.
"Several years ago we became aware that there was a dog stealing ring in Ravenden, Ark. At that time there were reports of two stolen dogs from the Myrtle area," Ward said.
The sheriff said he was aware that some dogs have been stolen in the Mammoth Spring, Fulton County, Ark., area and advises dog owners to be aware and take extra precautions regarding their pets.
Area residents need to keep an eye on their pets, according to Fulton County Deputy Rhonda Long. "Especially small breeds and cattle dogs," she said.
According to Long there has been a surge in the reports of missing and stolen dogs made to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office throughout the past three weeks.
Long said there's been a trend in the dogs taken as well. She said cattle dogs such as border collies, Australian shepherds and blue heelers and small, pure bred dogs like Jack Russell terriers are the types of dogs that have been repeatedly reported as stolen.
This problem is not specific to only Fulton County. Apparently this is a current problem throughout all of Arkansas. Long said the sheriff's office received a press release some time around Nov. 17 from Madison County in northwest Arkansas warning policing agencies that small breed dogs were being stolen throughout the state. In Madison County numerous missing small breed dogs had been found and confiscated from a suspected puppy mill in the area, according to Long.
Long said there are various measures pet owners can take to safeguard their pets from theft.
"A lot of people are marking their dogs with tattoos or those computer chips now," Long said.
According to a dog safeguarding Web site my-dog.info, these are the best options to locate a stolen animal. "Tattoos can't get lost and are difficult to alter. Microchipping (placing a small microchip the approximate size of a grain of rice under the surface of an animal's skin that can track the animal) is another option. Contact your veterinarian or local humane shelter for a safe animal tattoo or microchip," the Web site said.
If pet owners choose to implement a microchip, costs will vary with differing veterinarians, said pet detection recovery service Home Again. Once a chip is placed under the pet's skin, owners can enroll their animals with the pet recovery agency for $17.50.
Various other pet Web sites suggested owners tattoo their social security number on the inner thigh of a pet. Most Web sites said pet tattooing costs would vary; however, on average the cost is $35.
Long also suggested tattooing pets on their inner lip. "I've heard of tattooing pets on the ear," Long said. "Don't do that, though. Anyone who's going to steal a pet won't hesitate to whack it's ear off."
As far as the sheriff's office is concerned, Long said people are encouraged to contact authorities if they feel their pet has been stolen; however, authorities are limited in what they can do. "All we can really do is keep our eyes open for a missing pet," she said. "So if you do call (to report a missing animal) make sure to describe any physical distinguishing features."