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

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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.

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“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.

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

John Lauritsen