There’s nothing tender about this trap

Peter Jackson
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I was going to follow up on Muskrat Falls and water management agreements today. But I’m still trying to dig up some information.

Besides, I thought it would be nice for a change not to fashion a stick for my back.

Today, I’d rather talk about a little item that caught my eye on the news the other night.

It’s about a dog named Angel.

Angel lives with her owners Anne Marie and Ron Hutton in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s. The three like to stroll along a path that intersects their cul de sac.

My wife and I lived in Portugal Cove for 14 years.

If you can ignore town politics, it’s a glorious place to live.

We lived near the end of a road that turned into a path leading to the top of Beachy Cove Hill. It was an excellent stroll that meandered along meadows and through a small wooded area, before coming out at the base of a small rocky crest.

At the top — a bird’s eye view of Conception Bay, all within 20 minutes of our front door.

This is dog heaven. We had two dogs (one has since died) and they thrived in that natural wonderland. We’d encounter other dogs along the way, all happily exploring the smells, or chasing Frisbees tossed by their owners.

This is the fringe area of the city. It’s where town meets country, and there’s more and more of it all the time.

With housing developments popping up like mushrooms, more and more people like the Huttons are finding that ideal blend of modern living and rural reverie.

So anyway, as CBC News reported last week, Anne Marie was on the path with her dog, less than a stone’s throw from the road, when she heard a blood-curdling cry.

Angel was caught in an otter trap. The metal vice had a grip on her paw. A dead rabbit had been placed in the trap as bait.

Anne Marie called Ron on her cellphone. Ron rushed over, but couldn’t free the dog’s paw.

Angel was frantic. She cracked several of her teeth trying to gnaw at the trap, which had evidently been placed to catch coyotes.

“It was like a child screaming,” Ron told CBC.

Eventually, they had to take dog and trap to the vet, where Angel’s paw was finally freed.

A few days later, the Huttons received good news: the paw would not have to be amputated.

This kind of story makes me cringe.

I can appreciate that some people dislike or are wary of dogs, or simply don’t care. I don’t understand it, but I respect it.


But most people feel a deep connection with dogs — some perhaps too deep.

Dogs are not human, as many owners like to think, but they share key traits — happiness, fear, playfulness and, above all, loyalty.

Here’s something truly sad. I can watch human violence or misery on TV without flinching. I’ve become far too desensitized to stories of war and suffering.

But put on “Eight Below,” about a sled dog team abandoned at a polar base camp, and I’m a blubbering idiot. Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves”? A pretty dumb flick, but I still flinch when I think of that wolf being hit by a bullet.

Angel’s story is hardly the worst I’ve heard. Certainly not as bad as dogs tethered for months or years and slowly going stark raving mad.

But there’s an important news angle here, as well. With so many new developments bordering wooded areas, the province needs to seriously examine its trapping laws. As the Huttons found out from the province’s wildlife division, you can’t fire a gun near a residential community, but you can lay a steel trap for a pet or even a child to walk into.

That’s like saying you can’t toss grenades, but don’t sweat the land mines.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email:

Twitter: pjackson_NL

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Portugal Cove, Beachy Cove Hill, Conception Bay

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Recent comments

  • MasterCaster
    November 28, 2012 - 09:05

    Technically, dogs Should be on a leash, or in a fenced Dog Park, and not running free. What if they attaked some poor child, you would not be able to restrain it, if it is not on a leash. Every Day, We take calculated risks, by first assesing the severity of the risk, and then assessing the occurance rate (chance) and chose the coninue or not. Trapping in that area has been going on long before the community encroached, and I strongly believe it should continue. You teach your children to cross the road safely, so should you teach them to explore their environment safely and discuss the risks, even the small ones. I have two dogs, and when in the bush, with them off the leash, I accept the risk of traps. I also accept the risk of them being eaten by coyotes and wolves, and thank trappers for contolling the population. I am sorry for your dogs pain, but it is your fault or ignorance, not the trappers. MC

  • Will Cole
    November 07, 2012 - 16:21

    Bad enough Angle got caught in that trap, but if my kid ever got caught in one, who-ever set it would be sued right into next week.

  • Solution
    November 07, 2012 - 14:51

    If pet owners are responsible and followed the law, there would be no problems. Keeo dogs on leash at all times except for approved areas and fenced in private property.

  • Craig
    November 07, 2012 - 14:41

    This event happened in Portugal Cove-St Phillips! The town is fast becomming the roaming dog capital of Newfoundland and Labrador and the town council could care less! Drive down practically any street or go for a stroll on any walking trail or woods trail and you will encounter a roaming dog or a dog that is with its owner but not on a leash. When did our society start having sympathy for those who flagrantly break the law?

  • Craig
    November 07, 2012 - 14:34

    The law states the dog should have been on a leash. The law was enacted to protect the dog from injury, to prevent the dog from causing injury to itself and others. The owner broke the law therefore the owner caused the injury to her own dog. I have great sympathy for the dog but instead of the owner getting my sympathy, I say she should be charged with breaking the law and causing injury to an animal.

  • BlogDiss
    November 07, 2012 - 14:28

    Really sad about the dog. However, if the owner had obeyed the law the dog would have been on a leash. The law is there to protect the dogfrom injury and to prevent the dog from causing injury. The owner broke the law and her dog was injured. Therefore, the real cause of the injury to this pet was its owner. I feel bad, like you, for the pet but I have absolutely positively not one ounce of sympathy for the law breaking owner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • k
    November 07, 2012 - 13:25

    So I take you to be one of the people to disregard laws. All dogs on leashes. But yours are the few to ignore the law. Wonder what the children are taught To inform some there are people who have a phobia of dogs. I have a dog and cat . My dog is on the leash per law.

    November 07, 2012 - 09:15

    I completely agree that traps should not be allowed within town boundries. This is a danger to humans and all animals. However on the other side, owners are not permitted to let dogs run loose within a town boundry either, and this is by both municipal by laws and provincial legislation. I always walk my dog on a leash, at all times knowing the risks involved in them running loose. Situations are always more then meets the eye or are reported. I feel sorry for both dog and owner, but the law is the law, pets are not allowed to run free, even on trails within a town.