MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Traps meant to catch raccoons and bobcat are catching and killing dogs instead.

Earlier this week, a Springer spaniel named Penni died after getting caught in what some call a “body grip trap” – a device designed to kill animals instantly by breaking their neck or windpipe.

(credit: CBS)

Since Penni’s story aired, WCCO-TV has received several emails from people claiming a similar thing happened to their dogs. One of those people was Scott Slocum.

Slocum said his 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier Phillip died Thursday after being lured into the jaws of a trap.

This is how Slocum says it happened: On a walk behind Slocum’s White Bear Lake home, Philip and Slocum’s other dog, Goldie, were enjoying some fresh air near a marsh. As the group walked, Philip got ahead of Slocum, and that’s when trouble sprung.

“Philip started screaming in a way I’d never heard him scream,” Slocum said. “And I ran to him. I was only 10 feet from him, and I saw he was in the jaw of this steel trap.”

Phillip had gone after bait that was placed in a body grip trap, which are legal and are used to catch raccoons, bobcats and other animals. But this time, Phillip was the victim.

“It only took a few minutes and he was dead,” Slocum said. “But I stayed out there and tried to figure out how to get him out of the trap even then. It took me a very long time.”

John Reynolds, the owner of the late Penni, is a trapper himself, but even before Penni was caught and killed by a trap, he was against such traps being used on the ground. Instead, he would like to see them elevated where dogs can’t get them.

“All we are looking for is a change in the method,” Reynolds said. “It doesn’t seem like much to ask. They are good traps — we just don’t want them set where our dogs can reach them.”

Slocum is also in favor of placing the traps higher, and he would like to see signs put up when traps are in the area.

“Those things are very hard to find, very hard to see,” Slocum said.

In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made changes to prevent the traps from being set near houses and barns. But it is still legal to set them in some parks.

The DNR said they continue to talk with trappers and dog owners about the best way to use these traps.

So far, 25 other states have passed laws that require body grip traps to be elevated off the ground where dogs can’t reach them.

Slocum said he will remember Philip as an active, fun-loving dog that loved to chase after his friend Goldie.

John Lauritsen

Comments (66)
  1. Realist says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine the horror and heartache of watching this happen to your pet.

    1. raisethetrapsorlosethem says:

      Or Child?

      1. Shelly says:

        My thought exactly!

      2. Realist says:

        Why would I reference something that has absolutely nothing to do with this story?

    2. DNR says:

      One question… Is it really possible a child could get caught in one of these?

      I can’t believe the DNR is spending their time sending out ‘hits’ on collared deer, instead of dealing with a real situation like this. Seems like some real solutions listed below; require traps to be elevated, large signs marking traps in the area, etc.

    3. Frank Roedl says:

      I can’t imagine this happening to my dog while I try to save him….The DNR needs to take action that will be enforcable and well communicated.

  2. John Reynolds says:

    Penni, Sue, Phillip, two more dogs after Penni and the dozens of other dogs who have died in MN DNR approved killer trap sets are dead because the MN DNR decided to “reduce” the number of dogs killed in DNR approved killer trap sets.

  3. Tina Dockendorf says:

    I guess my question is why are these dogs off a leash out of sight?

    1. really? says:

      That’s not really the point.

      1. Kevin Thompson says:

        One point is if one doesn’t like the leash laws than one should work to change them. The DNR works to control wildlife populations useing the laws that are on the books!

        1. js says:

          Was a leash law broken?

      2. Joe Swasey says:

        That is the point, dog owners are 100% responsible for their dogs 100% of the time. That is why there are leash laws, and yes I am a proud dog owner but if my dog gets killed in a trap t is my fault not the trappers fault. Sorry to hear that this mans dog died, I hope a lesson was learned.

        1. really? says:

          The point is that with a little compromise the whole situation could be avoided. I’m not against trapping, but I am against not knowing of the dangers that exist when out walking on public (or private) property.

          1. raisethetrapsorlosethem says:

            Totally agree. Were there obvious signs indicating the dangerous traps?

            1. eagle eyes says:

              probably was ,but some people don’t pay attention

              1. really? says:

                no, they can be extremely well hidden.

        2. Tina Dockendorf says:

          That’s just stupid. My whole point is a responsible pet owner is supposed to keep an eye on their dog. IF my dogs are ever running loose they are never out of my sight. They all know their commands to come back. As far as the hunting dogs it happens. This isn’t the DNR’s fault. Its the trappers and the owners. Trappers need to mark their traps so owners know where they are. The owners need to be aware of their dogs wereabouts. Simple as that.

          1. js says:

            These traps are hidden. He was ten feet from the dog when it was caught in the trap. Conibear traps should be banned. They are notorious for killing indiscriminately and are used on public land and parks. Simple as that.

          2. Beth says:

            Be a little more respectful Tina! Obviously there are some places you can let your dog off leash. I actually met the owner of Phillip and Goldie and she is very sweet and does have control of her dogs. But once Phillip smelled the bait he was off and as most dog owners know, once they get that scent it’s hard to call them back. The owner is very upset about loosing her dog and just asking to get the laws changed. Why must you and others be so rude and start placing blame. Good for you for having such amazing dogs that they come to your every call. All of these comments blaming the owner are uncalled for and outright cruel. I hope Karma doesn’t come to bite you in the butt for your heartless comments.

        3. natural mind says:

          jack you go find yer brain,now…a kid has more value than a dog…if you think differantly you have been unreverably corrupted

          1. natural mind says:


        4. Trapper Jim says:

          Hey Joe,

          Shouldn’t that apply to trappers who set these traps on OUR public land too?

          My traps are MY responsibility so don’t do me any favors with your one sided posts.

    2. raisethetrapsorlosethem says:

      What if it were a child instead of a dog that discovered the trap? There is no reason that this should be on the ground in a public park.

    3. raisethetrapsorlosethem says:

      Not all cities or parks have leash laws. There are plenty of parks that allow off-leash. Yes, the owner should watch the pet but if there is no sign indicating the danger, it will be too late to react if the pet finds it.

    4. Lenny says:

      What wasn’t reported in this story was if this was an open area for trapping or not. That makes a big difference if the dog should be closely supervised or (allowed to run loose to chase game and non-game animals) If the dog was trapped in an illegal area – the trapper should be liable for the dog. If it was trapped in an open area for hunting-fishing-trapping then I am sorry for the loss of the dog, but the owner should know that before he releases his dog in the area! I have to know the laws and in the areas before I can trap. Why shouldn,t dog owners have to know what hunting-trapping seasons are open before they release their dogs to run in an open hunting area. We don’t need more legislation we need the laws that are on the books now to be inforced. I agree that an orange flag by a trap would be a good idea though to warn dog owners there is a trap in the area.

  4. jw says:

    My sister lost her dog the same way some years ago. She was walking on her own 80acre’s. A stranger placed the trap. The dog live for about 15 minutes while she struggled to get the trap off. Why do people have pleasure in killing?

    1. fact is jw says:

      jw…if various varmits don’t have their populations kept in check,your dog won’t even be able to be outdoors at all without danger of rabies and various other deseases

      1. fact is says:

        …and up north you don’t want your dog to run into a pack of wolves ,either

  5. Tammy says:

    My lab got stuck in a trap in the water. He howled so loud and we were able to save him but it was painful and it hurt me also. It took two people to get him out of it. It was a water trap in front of our property in WI. These traps should be illegal!!!

  6. Rally says:

    My heart goes out the family who lost little Phillip. Even on a retractable leash this could have happened. Also, many dogs who have been killed in MN in body grip traps were hunting with their owners doing exactly what they are trained to do. Watch MN bound, dogs hunt off leash. Lets rally dog owners and dog lovers and write the DNR, our state representatives, and the Governor, who has beloved dogs of his own and ask them to change the body grip trap law to get them off the ground. Require them to be set off the ground by at least 5 feet.

  7. Pauline Overby says:

    There are better ways. I wonder how many trappers have found someones pet in their trap and just shrugged it off as a stray or unwanted animal.

    Maybe we need to go back to the Mastif and keep the big dogs that eat the trap and are not killed by them, train them to find the owner of the trap and go after them.

    Loosing an animal hurts just as badly as losing a friend or family member.

    1. Jeff L. says:

      Please tell me you are kidding with that last sentence!

      1. Ace says:

        Losing your pet hurts even worse than losing some family members. My dog and I are together almost 24-7, he’s always there for me, has never in his life done a mean thing and I love him dearly. Some people feel like I do and some do not. We all should be respected for how we feel..

  8. Randall says:

    people need to abide by leash laws. it’s not other people’s obligation to safeguard your animal. if we’re all going to cry about dogs what about the cats that could still get caught in them elevated or not?

    1. Not everyone lives in the city says:

      There aren’t any leash laws where I live. Walking out on my own property poses a risk if someone places such a trap without my knowing. How is that fair?

  9. cats says:

    these traps are designed for cats and they work well which is why they are still being used

  10. ipmutt says:

    Let your dog run loose, it will get into things like this. Traps are part of every day life in the country. Too bad.

    1. js says:

      Hunting with a dog is also part of every day life in the country. Conibear traps kill indiscriminately and should be banned.

  11. S.E.MNBeagler says:

    Some of you talk about leash laws, well what about those of us who hunt with dogs. Are we supposed to hunt them on a leash? I rabbit hunt with Beagles mostly on state land in MN. In late October I almost lost my 6 year old dog in a body grip trap. Thanks to my better than average strength and quick CPR she survived with only seconds to spare.Believe me folks these traps are all over the place. And just because you don’t see tracks from a trapper in the fresh snow there can still be a trap as they only have to check them once every three days. And besides that lots of trappers don’t even get out of their vehicle to check them, They just drive by and look from the road. MN DNR, this needs to end NOW…..

  12. dave says:

    Was walking my dog in Rushford a couple weeks back and some idiot had a fox trap about 5 feet off the road and had a fox sitting there trapped, live, dying. Could have been my dog, but beside the point, get that away from the roadside.

  13. Rural hunter's wife says:

    My cousin, a trapper, asked for permission to trap on peoples’ land. That way the landowner knew there were traps on their property. At the end of the trapping season my cousin would give them a gift thanking them for their permission.

    Obviously that does’t work on public lands. However, the DNR or Parks Administrators should require the trapper to raise them off the ground and map their locations. Warning signs should be required. It’s the responsibility of the trapper to inform the public and property owner of the location of their traps.

    Since dogs and other pets can’t read, it becomes the responsibility of the owners to decide whether or not it’s worth the risk. It would be a shame not to let our German Shorthair Pointers experience the pure joy of sniffing and running and leaping and exploring.

    Work together people to come to a workable compromise!

  14. RML says:

    Why are these inhumane and antique methods still in practice in the first place?! No animal, pets or wild animals…. deserve such an agonizing death. People who set out these traps should stick their own heads in there and try it out to get an idea of what it must be like…. All traps and trapping needs to be banned.

    1. Chris Edwin Dahl says:

      Right On RML

    2. Laurie Matson says:

      Why all this interest in killing animals all the time? Leave them be. I don’t consider trapping to be a sport. neither is hunting, fishing. a sport is Basketball, baseball, volleyball,hocky etc. Also, why is it always men that are so bloodthirsty? Why do they love to kill animals all the time? Sometimes I despise Men because they always want to kill animals. and I love Animals !!!

  15. RML says:

    And for those of you who don’t consider a pet part of the family…. I hope you don’t own a pet. Especially with elderly and older people, dogs are family to them.

  16. John says:

    If you decide not to follow leash laws then it’s kind of your bad. if your dog was on a leash, you would see the trap and avoid it. Not trying to be heartless but if people should first follow laws already in place before trying to create new ones.

  17. js says:

    No, you probably would NOT see the trap before the dog was in it. They can be very well hidden. These traps are being placed in areas that a leash is not required. Not all cities and parks have leash laws. These traps should be banned.

  18. Zaxtor Znort says:

    Trappers are selfish subspecies.
    They cry about people using dog leash while trappers themselves do NOT wear leash.
    A trapper had his dog UNLEASH and guess what, it was killed by a predator.
    Trappers are among the egoistical hermits on Earth. They will dictate people to use leash on dogs while trappers do NOT use leash on their dogs.
    If a non trappers lose a dog to a trap or predator they will slam at them but if a trapper gets the same accident they will say NOTHING because they trap.

    Trapping needs to go because it is sadistic and cruel.
    I have many pics from trappers forums that traps causes blood, and pain,.
    Also coniber / bodygrip are NOT instant kill.
    It takes 20s to 2 min for the animal to die in a coniber.
    I learned it from trappers NOT ara.
    I gather stuff from trappers not PETA nor HSUS.
    ANd these hicks still call me a liar when I have SOLID evidence.

  19. Trapper Jim says:

    The number of dogs killed in these traps keeps growing. It’s over 20 now with more to come. Responsible trappers need to speak up and speak up soon or we’re going to lose big time. I can see some serious bans in our future if we don’t stop killing peoples dogs. It’s wrong and it needs to stop.

  20. Brian says:

    Very irresponsible pet owner. Should of had him on a leash if he was really concerned about the pet. The trapper was following the rules. How about giving the pet owner a fine. We as hunters follow the rules. Because if we don’t there are heavy penalties and fines involved.

    1. js says:

      Give him a fine for what? Was a leash required where he was walking the dog? A dog is not required to be on a leash everywhere it goes. These traps can be placed in areas that dogs are not required to be on a leash. I doubt you have your dog on a leash when hunting. Because these traps are legal does not make using them right.

    2. Time for Change says:

      He was obviously concerned about his pets which is why he was exercising them in winter even. Many pet owners don’t exercise their dogs at all. A hunter is not allowed to go 500 feet from a house anywhere on public land, including in the metro, and start randomly shooting their gun through the trees….trappers need to use some common sense at the very least, since there is no law preventing them from setting their weapons in parks, trails and other public land. Put up signs, big bright orange signs, warning outdoors people that there are traps set in the area. Use some common sense until this law is changed, because as a trapper said himself on here, it will change. All occupations experience change and it is time for trappers to change. Write the DNR to let them know it is time for trapping to change in Minnesota.

  21. Trapper Jim says:

    It’s frustrating to see my fellow trappers attack dog owners. As trappers we are responsible for our traps and to attack dog owners is just plain wrong. In some states if a trapper kills a dog in a carelessly placed body grip trap they are financially liable. In MN they walk away…….so far. I don’t think any attorney has tested this in court in MN. Is that what it will take?

    The level of igorance I’m seeing in some of these posts is hard to believe. Hunting dogs do their jobs off the leash and people walking dogs have every right to let their dog do some exploring with their range of control. In both cases the dog can find and be killed in this type of trap and to blame the dog owner is wrong.

    If you think you can stop your dog before it finds the hidden body grip trap baited with meat you are fooling yourself and putting your dogs life on the line.

  22. Happened to our dog too!! says:

    Happened Thanksgiving of this year, still very upset and disgusted!! The trapper set the baited trap right across our driveway less than 500 feet from our house! Our dogs bark at everything, a car slowing down on the gravel road we live on, in the country! I know our dogs were barking at him!! We found her already gone (DNR said she had no idea what hit her) and we had no idea how to get the trap off her. We took the trap and I left a note concerning what had happened. The trapper came by the next day as he seen me outside pulled in the driveway, demanding and getting very angry with me about his trap, that’s all he wanted, he did not care one bit about what had happen to my best friend!! He was is the meanest guy I have ever met!! The DNR were called and the trapper was issued a $500 fine for trapping to close to a house. It does not bring my dog back and I will never forget finding her and the heartless words the trapper had said to me!! He lives about a mile away, I will never call him a neighbor and hope to never see him again!! I believe in Karma and I hope it really hit him!!

    1. Laurie Matson says:

      Sorry, I hit report instead of reply, so very sorry. I just wanted to say to the author of this post that in addition to not ever calling him a neighbor for her to keep an eye on the guys house because if it ever goes up in flames, she should get her favorite lawn chair and go sit and watch it burn to the ground!!!!

  23. Dave321 says:

    Sorry to that about the dog killed near your driveway, and then the callous rude, entitled attitude of the trapper to boot when in that case, the trap was set illegally! I wonder…in the case of a trap being set illegally, is there not grounds for a lawsuit? I have an expensive registered dog, that is 11 points from being a champion, I could prove a certain value with him, let alone the bigger value of him as a family member. I’m sure there are valuable hunting dogs where this would be a similar situation. I know in some states a dog is considered property, which means in the case of some dogs, the value might be deemed low monetarily, but some states have recognized the value of a dog as a family member and have changed the amount of damages, as I understand. At the least, the trapper needs to be responsible for vet bills, should a dog survive and some kind of compensation. I wonder what would happen if a kid stuck his/her arm in one of those traps? They are capable of breaking bones and pretty much impossible to remove with one hand. There are stories of trappers getting caught this way, unable to remove the trap.

  24. Trapper Jim says:

    I would say that he lost his legal protection when he violated the law. I’d take him to court.

    Here’s a petition that was started to get body grip traps up off the ground. I support it. Please put your experience in it if you decide to sign the petition.


  25. Care about Dogs says:

    What ever happened to leash laws and being responsible for the pet that you decided to house?

  26. Larry Eiden says:

    Haven’t any of you talking about that dogs should be on a leash, ever stepped foot out to a rural county area or the north woods!! Not everyone lives in the concrete jungle! Bet you didn’t know milk comes from cows and not Cub Foods too. Think before you post stupid comments, it shows your ignorance big time.

  27. LJ says:

    A couple important points here

    Where hunting is legal on public lands it is legal to have your dog off leash (ever tried to hunt with a tethered dog? wouldn’t work very well). The problem is when trapping and grouse hunting or similar overlap. Perhaps this type of trap could be restricted to private property??

    A good hunting dog (or herding dog, hound, terrier etc) can be worked at great distance and still be under complete control. That’s what they were bred for, they have been doing it for hundreds of years. If anyone doubts this look up herding dog trials or exhibitions on youtube, or look up birding dogs, retrieving, freestyle, advanced agility, rally o, or pretty much any other canine sport. Working off leash is in no way neglectful, endangering others or cruelty as some people seem to be suggesting. A dog with a job is a happy dog. Please remember that not everyone’s situation is the same. Dogs have been worked reliably off leash for literally thousands of years, that is why we have the breeds we have. Frankly that’s why we have dogs. The situation would be different if this man had let his dog roam at large and it was killed, he didn’t, he was monitoring the dog and very close to it. 10 ft is shorter than a flexi lead and it sounds like he was either on his own land or on public lands nearby.

    Also in almost all cases it is perfectly legal to have your dog off leash on your own property, it is also often legal to hunt/fish/trap unless there is a posted No Trespassing sign. Even if it isn’t legal, hunters may assume that it is ok, especially on large tracts of land. So land owners may be walking their dog on their own land and encounter traps or signs of hunting. I was riding my horse through our woods last year and found several new tree stands along MY OWN RIDING TRAIL. Still don’t know who put them there but I had to stop riding on my own land during deer season for fear of my poor pet horse or myself getting shot by a trespasser.

    On a side note I can’t see this as a risk to children. The trap works by crushing the windpipe and it would take a very strange child to get down on all 4s and stick his head into this contraption. I suppose they might stick an arm in but they couldn’t accidentally step in it – it’s only open from the one side. The idea seems to be instant kill so catching a bobcat by the head vs by the leg and therefore more humane.

  28. purina one beyond coupon says:

    Thanks , I’ve just been searching for information about this topic for a long time and yours is the best I’ve found out so far. However, what about the conclusion? Are you sure in regards to the source?|What i don’t understood is if truth be told how you’re not actually much more well-appreciated than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent.