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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Pets won't have a leg to stand on

Published 04/09/08
By Barbara Schmitz, Senior Program Associate

Imagine that you are a Basset Hound taken to a lovely trail as part of a Doggie Day Care outing. One moment you are romping alongside your doggie buddies, playing fetch with the folks from the humane society. The ball you’re merrily chasing travels a few feet off the trail and you happily follow it. You smell something irresistible next to the trail, and you lean down to investigate it. The next moment you hear a terrible “snap” and then ... you lose consciousness as you are strangled to death by a metal Conibear trap.

Tragically, this is no fairy tale gone awry. The Basset Hound was named “Bubba” and I just finished reading how his life came to such a grisly and unnecessary end. Bubba was killed in a trap while being walked along a river trail in Juneau, Alaska, as part of a Doggie Day Care outing offered by the local humane society. While playing fetch, Bubba was caught and killed by a Conibear trap set for a wolf right off the hiking path.

This story — alongside so many others — fills me with outrage. Dogs, cats, wildlife, endangered species. All are at risk from these traps, and all have been caught and maimed or killed in these traps. How indescribably cruel to set such devices in the very places where animals — wild and domestic — go for refuge, peace, and safety: hiking trails, parks, wildlife refuges. And how long will our laws continue to shelter such needless brutality?

Trapping advocates perpetuate the myths that trapping is “highly regulated” and that the gruesome death of dogs like Bubba is inevitable and therefore acceptable. The reality is, however, that Alaska’s laws governing commercial and recreational trapping are lax and poorly defined. Alaska allows the use of steel-jawed leghold traps, Conibear traps, and snares — traps that are known to be non-selective and to also cause severe injuries or death to family dogs and cats and even threatened and endangered species. It allows animals to languish in leghold traps indefinitely — for days, or even weeks. Trapped animals can be killed by trappers in whatever way the trapper chooses. And trappers are not required to take a trapper education course. Alaska’s laws have significant holes and animals like Bubba are paying the price. If the law doesn’t change, Alaska’s pets won’t have a leg to stand on.

If you are as outraged as me, then it is time to get involved. Together, we can do our best to make sure that Bubba is the last “non-target” animal to suffer in a trap.

Blogging off,

Barbara Schmitz

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