“The most horrible sound you’ll ever hear.” That’s how Kristi Gatt described the howl of pain and terror her dog made when a steel-jaw leghold trap clamped down on her paw in North Carolina’s Croatan National Forest. Kristi and John Gatt were walking their dogs, Stella and Spanky, along a well-traveled trail in late February when Spanky triggered a hidden trap, set for furbearing animals just off the path. The couple had to work together to free the dog, who in her panic and pain severely bit them both. It is unfathomable, says Kristi, that private trappers are allowed to set dangerous traps “on or near a path without any notice to the remainder of the public that uses that forest.” According to Master Officer Steve Long of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, warning notices are not posted because people might steal the traps. Long asserts that the traps aren’t “designed” to harm animals—a claim belied by both the dog’s reaction and the emergency veterinary bill the Gatts had to pay afterwards.
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