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Preventing Dog Deaths By ‘Body Grip Traps’

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A state lawmaker wants to stop what he calls the senseless killing of dogs.

Last week, WCCO reported about two dog owners who lost their pets to what many call “body grip traps.”

They are used to catch animals like raccoons and bobcats, but several dogs have been caught and killed as well.

“Phillip started screaming in a way I’d never heard him scream,” said Scott Slocum. “I ran to him. I was only 10 feet from him and I saw he was in the jaws of this steel trap. It only took a few minutes and he was dead.”

Phillip was Slocum’s 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier. It was his story on WCCO that caught the attention of Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood).

Phillip is one of six dogs to have been killed by a body grip trap in recent months and Wiger believes many others have gone unreported. A Lake City man’s 6-year-old beagle survived being caught in the trap and is one of the only known cases of survival. But he says it took 15 minutes worth of CPR to save her.

“Media awareness has certainly helped. Many people have talked about what if? It could be anyone’s dog,” said Wiger.

Wiger, along with Rep. John Ward of Brainerd, aren’t asking to ban the trap, but rather change how it’s used. They want the traps moved 5 feet off the ground and placed in a way that dogs can’t get to them. Also, if the traps are used in the water to catch muskrats and other animals, they would have to be completely submerged.

Long-time trappers argue that this method has been used since the 1950s and with few complaints before. However, Wiger says he wants to put an end to a lot of needless grief.

“So many people can relate to that and it’s like the loss of an extended member of your family. You have an attachment to that animal,” said Wiger.

None of the trappers contacted for this story or last week’s story agreed to do an interview with WCCO.

Wiger says he will introduce the bill at the Capitol Wednesday. Twenty-five other states have passed similar legislation.

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