A Red Deer pet owner’s initial horror has turned to anger after one of her dogs was caught in a trapper’s snare at Three Mile Bend.
Nancy McCagg and her two dogs, Ellie and Cody, were finishing up a walk at the city’s only off-leash dog park at about 10 p.m. Friday night, just before the city nurse was to start working a night shift.
Before returning to her car, McCagg said she allowed her three-year-old golden retriever-cross, Ellie, to run off and get a drink from the pond. But the large, friendly dog disappeared into the bush and did not come back.
“I was calling her and I could hear her whimpering, but I couldn’t see her,” recalled McCagg, who took a flashlight from the car and began searching.
She found Ellie with a wire snare around her neck.
“I freaked when I saw it — and I freaked even more when I couldn’t get it off,” said the city resident, who felt the snare tighten every time she tried to loosen it. “The wire was all tangled around. I think the only reason it didn’t kill her was that half (of the snare loop) was below her collar and the other half was above her collar.”
McCagg feels lucky to have had a cell phone on her. “I phoned 911, and was told they were sending the police and animal control.”
By the time police officers made it to Three Mile Bend, so did the trapper who had set the snare and was coming around to check on it.
It was the trapper who freed the dog, said McCagg, who was shocked to hear the middle-aged man tell police he had a licence to trap in city parks.
The trapper also told McCagg she shouldn’t be walking in the park after dark, and asked police if she was going to be charged. “They said, ‘With what?’ There’s nothing we can charge her with,’” recalled McCagg.––––
The police intend to check on whether the trapper is actually licensed to set snares in the city’s park spaces.
McCagg doesn’t see how this could be possible, since dogs are constantly running around the bushes at Three Mile Bend. Children also use the off-leash park and other parks. “What if this had happened to a child?” she asked.
Red Deer Parks and Recreation Manager Greg Scott could not be reached for comment on the weekend. But Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he’s never heard of anyone being licensed to set snares in city parks.
If beavers or squirrels were causing problems, he believes it’s more likely that live traps would be used. These can be geared to the size of the targetted animal and allow it to be relocated.
Flewwelling is concerned that McCagg’s dog could have strangled, and said parks staff will likely look into the incident. But the mayor agreed that no one should be walking dogs at Three Mile Bend after dark.
“Our parks close at dusk,” said Flewwelling, who noted the goal is to reduce vandalism and protect public safety.
McCagg said she knows of many people who, because shift work, also have to take their dogs to the off-leash park at night. She noted this is unavoidable in the winter, when the sun sets at 5 p.m.
“We live in a northern country . . . I can’t give Ellie the exercise she needs on a leash,” added the pet owner who is relieved that her dog is uninjured — and apparently unperturbed — about her ordeal in the snare.