In the vast darkness of a November night, Wendy called out for Tucker. There was an eerie silence, as the wind swept across the landscape. Then a single bark, followed by a cry, coming from the top of a nearby hill.
Wendy ran up the steep hill, scrambling to keep her footing with the light of a bobbing headlamp. After 10 minutes of frantic searching she saw two eyes glowing in the distance. A tail wagging madly and nervously behind them. It was 4:30 am. As she rushed forward, Wendy couldn’t figure out why Tucker didn’t come running to lap her face as he normally did. Then she saw a wire, extending from beneath him. And as she neared she saw it: the leg-hold trap.
The afternoon before, Tucker, a lab, had snuck off with a neighbour’s dog, Milly, from Wendy’s home in Sundre, Alberta.
“They do this about once a week and as it’s never been an issue. There are no roads or houses on the crown land behind us, so there’s never been anything to worry about,” Wendy told APFA. “I messaged my neighbour at 5:30, asking if Tucker had shown up there. She told me Milly had come home at 4:30 with a little blood on her whiskers and chin. I knew something was wrong then.”
Wendy drove up and down the main road, checking the ditches and calling out for Tucker with no success. Her neighbours, riding a Rhino, toured around a nearby lot, then searched their own acreage.
She sent the neighbours home at about 9 pm and continued to search on her own, taking breaks to warm up inside and post on the local online buy and sell. Sitting in the backyard at 2 am, she called out again, beginning to fear wildlife in the area may have played a role in Tucker’s disappearance. Wendy began walking and calling, stopping to listen for any distant barks or cries, but heard nothing. Returning home, she stood on the back deck one last time. Feeling hopeless, she cried out for Tucker one last time. That’s when she heard the distant bark and cry.
“I was outraged and hyperventilating as I carefully tried to figure out how to open the trap,” Wendy recalled. “Every movement brought a sharp cry from Tucker, but he tried so hard to be good and still.”
The headlamp Wendy wore wouldn’t stay in place and her hands were freezing, frostbite approaching from the snow and cold steel of the trap. She was panicked, screaming for help as Tucker howled and whimpered with her.
“I finally released the flat plate on the bottom of the trap and realized I had to pull the side levels down, but every time I tried, Tucker screamed and mouthed my hands, asking me to stop,” she said. “Finally, I put everything I had into wrenching those sides down and Tucker pulled at the perfect time and was free.”
But in her efforts to free Tucker, her own finger was caught in the trap and her panic continued as she fought to remove it.
“I cuddled him for a minute as the blood flowed back into his paw… it had to be hurting and hurting “because he cried and cried,” she said. “I ripped that damn trap loose from the cut down tree it had been hooked to and wedged into the barb wire fence. I wanted the evidence.”
Tucker was unable to walk.
“He was hobbling then sitting, not moving and crying,” Wendy said. She ran down to get her jeep and drive around to park at the top of the hill. But while she was driving, Tucker desperately and painfully began working his way down the hill, wanting nothing more than to be home.
“He was so happy to be home,” she said. “He nosedived into his bed like a zombie and was asleep instantly, his foot trembling and twitching, but uncut from what I could see.”
The next morning, Tucker was moving around, but a day after that, was lame and sore. The veterinarian was called and expressed concern over the situation; Tucker was given painkillers and antibiotics due to inflammation and in case of infection.
Within days of the horrifying event, the local newspaper contacted Wendy. After that, a conservation officers contacted her and had the unfortunate task of informing her that not only was the trap legal, but her removing it was illegal. A hunter even contacted Wendy, asking for information so that he could help figure out who the trapper that put Wendy’s dog – and the rest of the community – at risk.
Wendy has begun printing signs, warning people of the traps and asking for an end to the practice. She contacted APFA to share her story and see what assistance we could provide.
APFA is ready to stand with Wendy in her call for an end to trapping – particularly when it is so close to homes, with no signage or identifying marks on the traps. Trapping is inherently cruel and puts people, domestic pets and all other animals at risk of a torturous affair or death.
To help bring an end to trapping and the fur trade, become a member of APFA today. We will, someday, end the suffering. But only with your help.