Dogs often abandoned at illegal California pot grows, filling shelters

Mexican cartels and other criminal syndicates, who use remote Northern California to grow pot, often leave guard dogs behind when they leave.

ISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. ― A thin, frightened husky-shepherd mix named Clover hobbled down a busy highway in rural Northern California. He had escaped an illegal cannabis grow but was struck by a car.

A driver scooped him up, and he got the help he needed at Rescue Ranch, an animal rescue center in Siskiyou County. He’s one of the lucky ones.

Animal abuse and neglect at thousands of illegal cannabis cultivation sites is a growing concern for police and animal rescue workers throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Many dogs don’t escape and aren’t rescued in time.

Most cultivators, including Mexican cartels and criminal syndicates from Eastern Europe and Asia, have one or more guard dogs to alert them about approaching police, vermin or robbers. Dogs are often mistreated and later abandoned at the end of harvest season.

“At the end of cultivation season, a lot of times the dogs are turned loose, or abandoned in their pens. Sometimes they’re found deceased” from starvation or extreme weather, said Sgt. Nate Trujillo, an investigator with the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office.

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