By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Anyone’s who has spent any time behind the Redwood Curtain knows that dogs are a grower’s best friend. Most farmers I know have at least one dog, if not more.
When you live in an isolated community cultivating the number one cash crop in the world, it pays to have a security system that you can rely on and for the most part, that can scare away any unwanted guest without firing off…a mean word. Dogs are an invaluable source of protection in lieu of setting up a .50-caliber foxhole.
Also for the bachelor-farmer, a dog plays therapist, friend and ally when all around you seems hopeless. There’s a saying in Mendocino: If you’re coming to Mendo for a vacation, bring a hat. If you’re coming to Mendo to live, bring a woman. There’s about one woman for every ten thousand guys. You could say, pets keep things sane up there.
For many a walk at the end of the day to check out your babies reaching for the sky with your pooch at your side relieves many a fearful moment.
Without a dog or dogs, life not only becomes harder for you, but without an early advance warning system, the gentleman farmer who is probably already a either a partial-survivalist who believes its only a matter of time before the world ends or maybe is a conspiracy freak who’s waits everyday for the arrival of Black Helicopters.
These are the types that may get a little skittish and may be apt to pull a trigger at dark shadows if Lassie’s not on the front porch barking hysterically to let him know something out there.
Plus there are bears, cougars and mountain lions, and many other four-legged creepy-crawlers that might mosey by a cabin late at night startling the inhabitants who, on their own without a pooch for protection might send out a few warning shots. With a dog present, the iterant four-legged scavenger just keeps on walking — just like the other lazy opportunists do in the big city.
Dogs are more than animals in the country. They’re friends, family, and confidants that never lie or betray your words to anyone else. And they hardly ever talk back.
Being a cop is hard and they never know what they’re getting into. But shooting dogs as part of a protocol is wrong, especially when said bouquet of Whoopsy-daisies is caught on tape.
My friend the gifted writer, Kym Kemp, among a million other things, writes about Humboldt County in her blog, ‘Redheaded Blackbelt
.’ In her column dated June 30, 2011, she wrote about two dogs that were stolen out of the back of a pick-up. At first this sounded like a Rodney Dangerfield joke. “Hey, I tell what bad luck I have. I bought two guard dogs and someone stole them.” Boom! Laughter.
Then I thought, how do you steal dogs without the dogs barking and yelping and snarling? I thought how bummed I be if someone took my cat. I just couldn’t imagine a person doing that to someone else.
Then when you factor in that it happen in a small town like Garberville or the like? I wonder how something like that could transpire, particularly in towns that are so animal-friendly and where you depend on your dogs for so much.
Then I heard about this from a friend in Mendo…
For years there has been horror stories of Pot Dogs that have been abused in order to protect large grows. Stories of dog’s vocal cords being slashed so there is no warning bark for intruders. The owners supposedly feed their canines gunpowder to make them more aggressive and mean.
Or what happens on a daily basis, dogs are being tethered and chain to grows and gardens with some food and water in a bucket, unless something happens to that like the wind or the dogs tipping the sustenance over.
Then at the end of the growing season, the dogs are either shot or left to roam the forest in feral packs. These are some of the abuses that we know of.
Barbara Shults, R.N., Founder and Director of the non-profit North Coast Animal Welfare Advocacy Center and host of the radio program Animal Advocate on Northern California Emerald Triangle-based KMUD has started a campaign – Not A Pot Dog
, to raise awareness of the cruelty and abuse entailed.
Ms. Shults tell us what got her started with the Pot Dogs issue. “I’ve been involved with animal welfare issues for over 13 years now. About 18 months ago, I found a severely abused dog roaming the neighborhood. It was a dog well known to the community for being tethered for years without shelter on a two foot rope at an outdoor ‘grow’. I took it to our local animal shelter and in thanks, the Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos is prosecuting me for theft. A man who stated publicly in a D.A. debate in 2010 that it was okay to leave a dog tethered, in violation of state law, to a ‘grow’ 24/7 as long as it had food and water.”
That’s right. For her efforts, Ms. Shults, was tried and convicted by D.A. Paul Gallegos after a jury trial, by all accounts, that was filled with perjured statements and misleading evidence, found her guilty of Petty Theft misdemeanor.
At press time, the 13 year- old dog remains in the same location with the same owner and with pounds of dog food and 5 gallons of water by its side, right back in the same place, vulnerable and alone.
As stated by the noted Civil Rights & Criminal Law attorney Greg Allen, “Basically what the D.A. has said is that anyone who is concerned enough to take a dog to the Humboldt County Animal Shelter can be prosecuted.”
I spoke to some of many of my grower friends about this issue, none of them would go on record with their quotes but they basically said, “If a cop shot my dog, let’s just say, I’m ready to go to prison for what I would have to do.”
Another farmer stated that anyone who steals another person’s animal up here, “We’ll settle that score ourselves. The Sheriff’s Department and Animal Abuse won’t have to get involved.”
From my research and interviews that I’ve done in the last few months, the summer of 2011 is going to get hot up there behind the Redwood Curtain. Homeland Security and the DEA have set-up shop in the Redwoods. Tempers and the hostility between growers and the law enforcement are already piqued.
Mendocino Sheriff Tom Allman is courageously trying to change to the environment with his Zip-tie and Mendo’s 9.31 permitted programs.
We’re at the crossroads of marijuana, medical and recreational. Some call it a movement, while others call it an industry.
Bottom line, it is up to us to take care of our own. We’re close to pointing the finger where cartels are growing Titanic-like gardens. People know what’s going. And if you didn’t, you know now.
It is up to us to stop the negative aspects of marijuana before the corrupt Powers-That-Be turn ourselves against each other. Let’s police ourselves so the Man doesn’t have to.
When so much is at stake, we, the people need to stop animal abuse. Not only is it a travesty to the animals, which is foremost and paramount, but there is a powder keg that could explode if a man’s animal was hurt, rightly or wrongly.
Trust me, there’s a couple of guys I’ve met that if one of their dogs were shot or stolen, I wouldn’t want to be around when that guy found the perpetrator, whether that perp’s wearing a uniform or not.
At press time, Ms. Shults is raising funds for an appeal against this serious miscarriage of justice. You can donate to the North Coast Animal Welfare Advocacy Center, a 501(c) tax exempt organization or donate directly to the legal fund set up by Christine Garcia, Esq., at www.animalattorney.com/getactive.html
The amount needed for the appeal is $5,000.00.