Calls for more signage after dog's legs get caught in 3 traps

Vera, pictured, got caught in three leg-hold traps while walking along a popular recreational trail in Kitimat, B.C. (Alexis Toews - image credit)
Vera, pictured, got caught in three leg-hold traps while walking along a popular recreational trail in Kitimat, B.C. (Alexis Toews - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains graphic images of a dog's legs stuck in traps.

Calls for better signage indicating where traps are located are growing after another dog in northern B.C., got caught in not one leg-hold trap, but three.

Alexis Toews had taken her three dogs out for a run along a recreational road — where people often run with dogs or enjoy activities like snowmobiling, hiking and quadding — in Kitimat, about 653 kilometres northwest of Vancouver. Knowing it was a popular spot for people and pets, she didn't think there would be any traps in the area.

"I try to take my dogs in places that would be safe and I didn't think anything would be on the side of the road, but there was," she told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

Her two-year-old dog Vera ran down into the bush and started to yelp. Toews discovered her pet was caught in a leg-hold trap.

Toews is well aware of trapping practices; her partner is a trapper, and she's knowledgeable about the types of traps, how they work and where they are typically found.

She says she ran to her car and grabbed some tools to try to free Vera.

She came back to find that her dog had another foot caught in a separate trap, and a third trap had become connected to the first one.

Alexis Toews
Alexis Toews

When she was unsuccessful in removing them, Toews called the RCMP. When they couldn't get the traps off, they called the fire department, which had to use special equipment to remove the traps.

Now, Toews has joined the growing call for trappers to put up more, and better, signage to alert people to dangerous traps in the area, especially in places where trapping and recreation may overlap.

"Every year dog owners call for more signage and that's basically all I can ask for," she said.

"I realize that trap lines can be anywhere. They can be along recreational path, they can be on private property. So to control where they're set is a bit more difficult, I think, than just letting the public know that they're there until those changes are made."

Calls for mandatory signs 

Vera's story comes just after the story of Pearl, a working dog near Fort St. John — about 550 kilometres to Kitimat's northeast — who lost her leg after being stuck in a leg-hold trap for several days. Vera didn't lose any limbs as a result of her incident, but she will be healing for an undetermined amount of time.

"I'm just glad that she's alive," Toews said.

An open letter has been sent by the advocacy group The Fur-Bearers to Premier David Eby calling for trapping reforms, which includes mandatory signs near active traps.

"Residents of British Columbia shouldn't fear going for walks with their dogs," Fur-Bearers executive director Lesley Fox said in a news release.

"There is no way to know if a casual walk with your family's best friend will end in a horrifying tragedy — despite clear, simple solutions that could prevent it."

Trapping is regulated in B.C. According to the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, about 3,500 trappers are active in the province.

In an email to CBC earlier this week, the ministry said it has given support for voluntary signage and is considering other ways to reduce the chances of pets being caught in traps, adding that those who illegally set traps or don't take the required training for trapping may be fined.

The trapping section of the B.C. Wildlife Act says warning signs "should be used to inform people of trapping activities."