Garage fire leads to discovery of pot grow, puppy mill in Chollas Creek

SAN DIEGO - Authorities discovered a puppy mill and an indoor marijuana farm after responding to a garage fire at a Chollas Creek home, officials said Tuesday.

The blaze was reported at 11:25 p.m. Monday in the 5200 block of Auburn Drive. Crews were able to knock down the fire in 10 minutes, fire officials said.

Roughly 60, four-feet high marijuana plants were discovered inside the home once the fire was out, officials said. Authorities also seized 16 dogs from the home, mostly small breeds, but also a few large breed dogs.

10News learned that a man who lives in the home with a woman and their 3-month-old child was arrested.

The man is suspected of setting up a system to steal electricity from a source outside the home to power his marijuana grow and the crude set up sparked the blaze, 10News learned. San Diego Gas & Electric crews were called to the scene to investigate.

Paramedics took the infant to Rady Children's Hospital to be checked out.

Neighbor Donna Martin told 10News she was not surprised about the animals, but was shocked about the pot grow.

"I had seen them several times bringing puppies in and out of the house; I thought it was a puppy mill. I even went as far as to call the animal control people to throw in my suspicions, but I never knew if they came out and looked at the house and investigated," said Martin. "That's what I thought they were doing there, but I never thought it was a pot house."

10News learned that the puppies are not up for adoption at this time. The owner has two weeks to claim them and if he does not, they become the county's property.

Early Tuesday evening, County Animal Services Deputy Director Daniel DeSousa told 10News the owner was in the process of claiming some of the dogs. Staff members said the owner would return Wednesday to claim more of the animals.

According to the county, there is a limit of six adult dogs per household, but no limit on puppies as long as they are cared for.

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