A B.C. couple’s snowshoe trip ended in an unexpected and terrifying way when they heard a yelp from their sheepdog Gracie.
On Sunday, Dana Switzer went snowshoeing with her husband and two dogs along Seven Sisters Trail, a popular route west of Barriere in the province’s interior, when one of their two dogs was caught in what’s known as a body gripping trap.
“We just heard this god-awful scream,” Switzer told CBC News. They found Gracie with her neck caught in the trap and blood coming out of her mouth.
Switzer and her husband were unable to release the dog from the trap, and when she stopped struggling, they were sure that their loyal friend had died. Giving up, they left Gracie to go report the incident to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. But as it turns out, there was no fowl play here. Apparently the SPCA gets calls from concerned dog owners about these traps every year, but there’s not much they can do about them—they’re completely legal.
According to a statement from the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations, which regulates 3,500 trappers in B.C., the trapline and Conibear trap that Gracie got caught in are registered with the province.
But that was hardly the biggest surprise for Switzer and her husband that day.
After they left what they thought was Gracie’s dead body, someone (presumably the trapper) freed the sheepdog. The dog ran off and was found wandering down a nearby road. She was turned into the SPCA, who contacted the Switzers using the information on Gracie’s ID tag.
The shocked owners picked up their dog, who had been treated by a vet with the SPCA for injuries she sustained to her upper lip, tongue, and front teeth.
Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the B.C. SPCA, told CBC News that Gracie’s survival is “quite miraculous given the type of trap involved.” Moriarty says the SPCA is still investigating how long Gracie was in the trap, and exactly how she got out of it.
And although its huge relief for her owners, both Switzer and the B.C. SPCA are calling it a “cautionary tale.”
“When you’re on Crown land, you’ve got to be aware,” Switzer told CBC News. Although warning signs were posted along the nearby Westsyde Road, the signs that were supposed to be posted on the trails were missing.
It is worth noting, however, that trapping is only allowed at certain times of the year, which tends to be in late fall and winter, so it’s especially important to be aware this time of year. Another way to protect your pooch? Learn how the traps work so that you have a better chance of releasing your dog from one if the unthinkable happens.