Shannon and Ken Fraser, who live at St. Mary Lake, love their dog Rosie, a three-year-old German shepherd/Siberian husky cross.
They almost lost Rosie this week and want to sound the warning to other pet owners who walk their dogs on Crown land, or along forest service roads.
What Shannon calls a “horrendous experience” began on Monday when she took Rosie for a run on River Road towards Cranbrook. She explains that she often skis or bikes with Rosie, but on days when she can’t, she lets Rosie out to run behind her car.
“I go out where there’s no traffic and let her out. She trots along. On Monday we were returning and were about three kilometres from our house when Rosie disappeared into the bush. She didn’t come back out.”
Shannon stopped the vehicle and followed Rosie’s tracks into the trees beside the road.
“I found her with her head in a trap, right behind her ears,” she said. “Thankfully there were no spikes; it was a vice clamp. She couldn’t move — the trap was tied to a tree. She was breathing but I couldn’t get the trap to release. She was wagging her tail a little when she saw me.”
“Then she moved a bit to relieve the pressure and I think she passed out. But I was so upset, I thought she had died.”
Shannon left Rosie and went home and called the Conservation Officer, her husband and her mother.
Her family arrived before the CO. Shannon wanted to go back to the site. At that point, believing Rosie had died, she wanted to get photos before the trapper showed up.
“When I got there, she was in a different position. I called her name and she moved. She was still alive. I had my mom come down and sit with her and I raced home to get my husband.
“We were working on getting the vice off Rosie’s head when the CO showed up. Between two men squeezing as hard as they could, we finally got her loose.”
Rosie was taken to the vet and the good news is that she’s wobbly but alive.
“She’s still struggling,” Shannon said Tuesday. “Rosie is traumatized and injured, her right eye has nerve damage and she’s unsteady on her feet. But at least she’s alive.”
The vet told the Frasers that Rosie’s youth, good shape and size worked in her favour.
Now that Shannon has had time to think about what happened, she wants to warn other pet owners.
“I want the public to know that there are traps out there on Crown land. It’s dangerous for pets and kids. The trap was only 30 metres off the road. They are concealed and baited with meat. How many trap lines are there that close to the road? How many more traps are out there that could kill another dog? It’s a miracle Rosie survived.”
Shannon’s concern is that with more and more people accessing what used to be backcountry, perhaps trapping policies need to be changed.
“The CO is investigating and said he’d get back to me, but apparently trappers are not required by law to put up notices about traps. On Crown land, dogs are not required to be on a leash. Trapping policies need to be updated. There are so many more people in the backcountry.
“I’m glad it was winter otherwise I wouldn’t have found her. I followed her tracks in the snow. If I couldn’t do that, it’s possible I would never have found her. She couldn’t make any noise with that trap on her head.
“As pet owners we take such good care of our animals. When you’re out in nature, you assume you are safe. It puts a whole different view on winter and wilderness and safety. The whole thing around trapping needs to change.”