Cow Savaged by Dogs; Sheriff Downey Blames Marijuana Industry

This is a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

Dog Attack 3.8.2016 1Last week a meeting was held with local ranchers regarding the destruction of livestock by dogs. During that meeting strategies were discussed on ways to curb these indiscriminate attacks, which includes prosecution and restitution for the double the value of the animal. Sheriff Mike Downey will not back down from his promise to seek prosecution for dog attacks.

On Monday March 7, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a rancher who had to put down a cow because it was attacked by dogs the night before. A portion of the cows face was mauled by dogs roaming from neighboring property, which resulted in the destruction of the animal by the rancher. There have been similar dog attacks reported to the Sheriff’s Office recently. The Sheriff’s Office has a zero tolerance for dog attacks and will seek prosecution of dog owners found to have dogs that attacked or killed livestock.

Sheriff Downey stated, “ I believes these dog attacks are the result of the unregulated industry of illegal marijuana cultivation by growers who maintain these dogs to protect their grow sites.” In many cases these animals can be extremely dangerous and vicious. These dog owners feel the need to keep extremely dangerous dogs on their property to protect their harvests but to what cost for neighboring landowners? These dogs are not being contained on their property and are free to roam wherever they want, causing havoc and terrorizing livestock. There are no leash laws in the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County, but the dog owner must be in control of their dogs at all times. If a dog is found on another person’s property and is harassing or chasing their livestock, the property owner has the right to kill the animal.

Owners of dogs that injure or kill livestock are both criminally and civilly liable for their actions. Per Cal. Food & Agric. Code §31501.
“The owner of any livestock or poultry which is injured or killed by any dog may recover as liquidated damages from the owner of the dog twice the actual value of the animals killed or twice the value of the damages sustained by reason of the injuries, as the case may”
Ranchers are frequently dealing with mauled livestock, which is a drain on cattlemen and their resources. The livestock that are not killed by the roaming dogs are traumatized and difficult to handle. This needs to stop. The Sheriff’s Office has taken a very aggressive stance on this issue and will not stop investigating these senseless attacks until justice is achieved.

The attached image is from the most recent dog attack on cattle. This cow was put down as a result.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding dog attacks or loose dogs, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.



  • It is tragic to see livestock mauled like this and I fully support prosecution of owners and that they repay damages. This happens more than many realize too.

    I do take exception with the resting blame in such a big way on growers as I know that there are so many people that have dogs that roam and kill deer, sheep, goats etc. and they are just people that don’t have control of their dogs but are not big time growers (or not even growers at all).
    I do agree that the grower thing happens, but I have had neighbors that had family “pets” that would “run” early in the morning and the neighbors had no clue..even denied it!
    I unfortunalty have seen many roaming dogs and it has more to do with lack of responsible owners. Just this week, I am following a local incident
    of roaming dogs injuring and killing goats, in my area and I’d bet it’s just very poor care from owners..
    Sorry for the loss..

    • Maryelln, Great response….

    • Yes Sheriff Downey over reached on saying he believes these attacks are a result of the unrelated industry just as you believe the industry has no result. The increase of growers into the area has brought many dogs into the area that are used to intimidate people tresspassing into their grows. Unfortunately these dogs are allowed to roam to keep tresspassers and wild life out of their properties. Some of these animals are territorial and begin to roam outside of their area. I base this fact on experience. I have lived in the area for over 25 years. The area used to be mostly forest property. Since the property around use is being sold over the past several years most recently it is being bought up by growers. Since that time we are having more and more encounters with threatening dogs. I do not blame the animals or the dope growing, it is people’s care of animals. Dogs roam, even small family type dogs. If the animal is left alone they will roam, if the animal is taught to be agressive it will be threatening. Again no blame, but there is some corrolation between the increase of growers and roaming animals by the simple fact that growing has brought an increase of city folks to the country to grow.

      • I’m not sure if you were addressing my response, I did say the grower thing happens ..I know it does. I’ve been watching the changes also.
        downys response just seems to put so much focuse on a group of growers that are keeping dogs just to protect their grows,
        meanwhile, and I think probably a larger percentage of families or individuals with dogs are careless . My chickens used to get killed by the tweeker neighbors I had for years. Maybe they grew a few plants, but mainly their dogs were hungry.
        It’s been happening for years..

        • Lost Croat Outburst

          Agree, it has been happening for years. Roaming dog packs have been an issue since I got here in the early ’70’s. The increase in clueless, sociopathic, moronic weed growers has worsened the situation, but we are not all like that. Some folks have the recurring delusion that now that they are in the country, they can turn their dogs loose to roam and kill at will.

    • Agreed. These aren’t guard dogs for grows, they are growers untrained, unsupervised dogs.

  • Boils down to being a responsible pet owner

  • I wouldn’t blame pot growing specifically. I blame irresponsible dog owners. This is not a problem that’s unique to our area, it happens all over the country.

  • can you put a graphic warning on these articles? I feel like that picture is a lot worse than the one with blood on the stairs.

  • So sad that this cow had to suffer being mauled by irresponsible dog owners lose dogs. If you can’t control your animals don’t own them!!! This is a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. Be responsible pet owners….

  • Shoot first, ask questions later.

  • The suffering this animal had to go through makes me want to cry. The same thing happened to a relative when the neighboring ranches were subdivided. I myself followed a blood trail to find a live sheep walking around with it’s entrails dragging on the ground and many more dead in Salmon Creek. Over 300 sheep lost in 3 years after 3 large ranches were subdivided. Many dogs were shot but there were too many. Out of business and sold out only for that ranch to be subdivided.

    • 100 sheep per year. Not believable.

      • But definitely possible. Had an owner tell me one time that he found 13 sheep mauled in one night. When a pack tastes blood they can go into a frenzy, attacking all available animals for the joy of the hunt. They are not looking for food or killing for a meal.

        • Totally correct. Even mild mannered dogs can get in the pack mentality and once they’ve killed their ancient instinct kick in and they go nuts and kill more. But sense most dogs are well fed they don’t eat most or any of the kill. As much as I dislike growers I think this is just dog owners that let their dogs run free because their “nice” dogs but no dog should be unsupervised especially at night, you have no idea how many dogs your pet is joining up with.

      • Response to hmmm: Absolutely believable, I worked on a ranch outside of Blue Lake in the 1990’s one night a pack of dogs killed 22 lambs (about 6 month olds), the next time they hit again and got another 12 and some ewes as well. We caught one dog the third day shot one, and two others got away. When we found the owners of the one caught dog, complete denial. “No way my dog could do that”. When dogs get in packs they can kill a lot of animals in a short amount of time. It was a terrible experience.

  • Really?! “Sheriff Downey stated, “ I believes these dog attacks are the result of the unregulated industry of illegal marijuana cultivation by growers…” “. Well, the “regulation” was what Sheriff Downey and his predecessor were supposed to be doing! Instead they chose for years to drive right past large greenhouses full of growing marijauna, pretend to not see huge outdoor gardens and make up excuses for not bothering to cut down outrageous scenes next to the few they would tokenly bust. It was the lack of “regulation” that led to the proliferation of mega-grows and people coming specifically to this county to blow up grows. I find the Sheriff’s words to be complete bullshit since he was in the driver’s seat to make a difference. Instead he surrendered our county to rampant growing and it’s consequences….(fyi-Im not against weed or responsible growers but I do oppose bullshit and the greedy and sloppy growers who flocked here as a result of our hands-off policy)

  • Prosecute, of course. But place blame on individuals not a mythical “industry. Sheriff Fownry is an asshole & a liar. [edit]

  • Prosecute, of course. But place blame on individuals not a mythical “industry. Sheriff Downey is an asshole & a liar. [edit]

  • So curious if the neighbors in this instance are from Bulgaria. They have no respect for anyone or anything and are attempting to run people off their land all over the rural areas of our county.

    I hope the neighbors are investigated for dog fighting, the viciousness of this attack may be due to fight training. Poor cow. Once a dog gets thst taste its too late, pooch gotta be put down.

  • Lock and Load!

  • As someone involved in this industry and a pitbull owner,

    I have to admit that the link between pot growers and untrained pitbulls is undeniable. The dogs are absolutely not being used to protect grow sites, but growers happen to admire pitbulls and also happen to be the types of folks who do not train, fix or properly secure their dogs. Most growers are the worst parts of redneck and hippie put together.

    • “Most growers are the worst parts of redneck and hippie put together.”

      I agree with this

      • I don’t agree that most are that way but I’ve met some of those folks.

        • What came to my mind when I agreed with “the worst parts of redneck and hippie put together” was naive and not thinking it through.

          Though I do believe that most of the local redneck/hippy type growers have sold out their values.

          • I wouldn’t say most but a heck of a lot more than I would like. And, of the growers I know, it really isn’t so much the folks who came here who’ve gone crazy as it is their kids and green rushers.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      I do not agree. The rotten eggs make the news. I have personally dealt with some scummy people over the years and some wonderful as well. Easy to condemn everybody when you hate the herb.

  • At one time back in the 1940’s and 50’s there was a government trapper in Mendocino Co. who had a couple dogs that were trained to kill wild dogs. I forget the breed. He was very popular with the ranchers.


    Total nonsense


    So if your dog runs free in ettersburg let’s say to the frenchs property it gets shot and you will get a bill for the damage caused.
    why on earth don’t these ranchers protect their live stock a bit better.
    shoot that dam dog. Don’t sit and whine aaboutit, take matters in your hands,.. Downey isn’t going to fix that cows face nor bring it back to life.
    Stop being such a puss already and do what’s right already!

  • Let’s hope all dog owners will be awakened to the horrors that even sweet pea can induce, & then take the steps to prevent this from ever happening in the future.
    This is heart wrenching.

  • Jeckle and Hyde

    I believe the dogs are the ones treaspassing,a rancher can’t watch his heard 24/7,obviously is the rancher had seen the dogs he would have shot them,my grandfather put down many dogs and cyotte that mauled his sheep and cows,but he couldn’t catch them all.People need to take responsibility for their animals actions and quit living in denial saying scooby is a good dog,he wouldn’t do that,we brought a few dead dogs back to thier owners that had denied their dogs envolvement for months

  • Country Bumpkin

    Does anyone know where this latest attack occurred.

  • I would bet These attacks are from loving pit bulls ,that would never do any harm.Then why are the shelters more than half full of this breed .The first step to being home free is getting a pit by your side.people who make bad decisions love pits.

  • Brookesia Micra

    Where did this happen? Even a general vicinity would be helpful.

  • My pitt guards my family.not plants.all the violent people invading homes and the catch and release program at the jail.everyone wants to take gun rights away I need protection for my family.most shitty pitt owners I see are stupid new school wanna be growers that want to look tough and cool in there new truck.And they just let them roam around the yard.

  • 7 lil Leggetteers

    Poor cow…too bad it got mauled by a dog instead of being slaughtered later on, by a human and dismembered for food!

  • What happened to that cow is awful and I support the rancher/farmers who try to feed us. I support restitution too.
    However, blaming a subset of society for something that happens everywhere is pathetic propaganda by lying law enforcement.
    Back home in Pennsylvania our rabbit hunting dogs would sometimes “go rogue” and stop hunting for rabbits and would start running down and killing whitetail deer and anything else they came across. We would put those dogs down as once they go off the training they always would. There was no pot being grown, this was on state games lands set aside for hunters.
    The point is when will we stop believing whatever smoke the Sheriff blows up our behinds? The lesson is law enforcement with lie and reach for any straw to demonize cannabis growers. Maybe if it wasn’t the wild fricking west with no law enforcement response in a timely manner forcing people to protect themselves however they can this wouldn’t happen as often. We just can’t go run around shooting people and getting a 2 week paid vacation with celebratory tattoo like they can, we need dogs.
    I would like LEO to look in the mirror to see how they are part of the problem instead of just pointing fingers blaming people you don’t agree with.

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