'A horrible, horrible thing to see': Pet dog dies in beaver trap

A P.E.I. woman whose dog got caught in a beaver trap and died in her arms says she is distraught and afraid to walk her other dogs.

'I cried and I begged God to please help give me strength to release him from this thing he's in'

Cooper, a Poodle-Yorkie mix, died on Dec. 12 when he got caught in a beaver trap in Alaska, P.E.I. (Submitted by Lynda Fortin)

A P.E.I. woman whose dog got caught in a beaver trap and died in her arms says she is distraught and afraid to walk her other dogs.

Lynda Fortin said she screamed, cried and "begged God" to give her strength as she tried desperately to free her 16-pound Poodle-Yorkie mix from the trap in a field in West Prince.

"I knew I was losing the battle," she said. "His little tongue was starting to turn blue. I kept trying, but there was nothing I could do. It was a horrible, horrible thing to see."

Lynda Fortin says trappers should have to reveal the locations of their snares so pets don't get caught in them. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Fortin is calling on the government to force trappers to reveal the locations of their traps to local residents so that pets — or even their owners — don't get caught.

It was total complete disbelief and shock. I started to scream, hoping that someone would help.– Lynda Fortin

"If I had known there were traps down that road, obviously I would simply stay away," she said.

On Dec. 12, Fortin was walking Cooper — nicknamed "Schnitzy" — and her two other dogs in a frozen, boggy area with tall grass near her property in Alaska, Prince County. The dogs were off-leash, when suddenly she heard a "little yip."

"I looked and I said 'Ah, what have you gotten yourself into now, Schnitzy.'"

Cooper, nicknamed "Schnitzy," liked to run in the fields in Alaska, P.E.I. (Submitted by Lynda Fortin)

She thought the dog may have got his winter coat caught in some branches, but when she went over to help she saw that his head, right paw and abdomen were caught in the trap.

Tried frantically to pry it apart

She tried frantically to pry it apart, she said, and used her legs for leverage until her "knees were black and blue."

"It was total complete disbelief and shock," she said. "I started to scream, hoping that someone would help. Just scream, scream and I cried and I begged God to please help give me strength to release him from this thing he's in."

But she could not get the trap off, and the dog died.

Lynda Fortin says she is afraid to walk her other dogs off her property in Alaska, P.E.I. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

She did not want to take the dog home where her mother would see him in that condition, so she carried him to a neighbour's house where, together, they were able to remove the trap from the dog's body.

Trap met regulation requirements

Wade MacKinnon of the provincial Department of Justice and Safety said government investigated the incident, and determined the trap was set to regulation requirements. He said the trap, a 330 Conibear, was set on public land and is legal for trapping beaver. He said the trapper is licensed and the trap was tagged as required by legislation.

Because trappers are not required to report where traps are set, government doesn't know the locations of the traps, MacKinnon said.

"The onus is on the trapper to ensure he/she has permission to trap on that property," he said.

'No reporting required'

"Conservation [officers] regularly patrol known trapping areas for compliance and respond to public complaints. Most public land is open to trapping with no reporting required."

But Fortin said that doesn't help her. She said ever since that horrifying day, she has been too scared to walk her other dogs off her property.

"I'm afraid. Where do I go?" she said. "Let me know where I can and cannot walk these dogs. I cannot go through this again."

With files from Natalia Goodwin