Burglars targeting animal health care facilities in Catoosa, Whitfield and Bradley Counties
VCA Catoosa Animal Hospital in Ringgold just became the latest in a string of animal health care facilities to be burglarized. Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk told WDEF that location was an expensive hit.
"Taken from this burglary is going to be almost $7,000 worth of product," Sisk said.
The product was medications; not the heavy narcotics but flea, tick and heartworm medications. News 12 asked if there’s a chance the medications are being used as ingredients to make drugs that people can get high on.
"At this time, it’s not 100-percent positive but we do feel that it’s probably being sold on the black market," Sisk said.
VCA Spokesperson, Todd Lavender told WDEF that if the thieves are selling the medications on the black market to people who are looking to purchase the drugs at a cheaper price for their pet, they could be putting those pets in danger.
"Some of these medications are used for dogs and some for cats. When they’re misused we see the animals suffer from toxicity."
Another problem with buying the medications on the black market is the lack of a manufacturer guarantee.
"When the medications are not purchased through a licensed facility, the manufactures don’t support them. So if you purchase them on the black market and your pet contracts a disease the drugs are supposed to prevent, the manufactures will not back up their guarantee," Lavender said.
News 12 questioned Lavender about how the burglary has impacted the company.
"The company pays for those things. We’re not insured for those types of losses. The hospital suffers just like any private practice would. And frankly, theres a bigger impact on the people who work there. They’re now concerned about their own safety and when they can be there at night by themselves," Lavender said.
VCA Catoosa Animal Hospital was not the only facility targeted by thieves for the same medications.
"We do know that we’ve had reports of these type of thefts in surrounding counties. Whitfield County and Bradley County authorities have reported the same thefts," Sisk said.
According to investigators, the person or people responsible for the VCA burglary were so well organized that they went as far as to cut the phone lines to keep the alarm system from triggering.
"It’s not just your typical smash and grab where they broke out a window where it was very obvious. They did a little bit of homework and know what they’re doing so I do feel they are a bit more organized in their crimes," Sisk said.
The Catoosa County Sheriff’s office desperately wants to get the people responsible for the rash of burglaries off the streets.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the latest burglary to immediately contact Catoosa County Detective Chris Lyons at 706-935-2424.
Authorities are also asking the public to be on the lookout for any individuals who are attempting to sell large amounts of pet medications.