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Close Call Prompts Plea For Body Grip Trap Redesign

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Man's best friend doesn't begin to describe what Joe means to Daniel Brosnan.

The 7-year-old Brittany Spaniel has been Brosnan's hunting companion since he was a pup.

"We've been through a lot together. Everybody loves him. He has more friends than I do basically," Brosnan said.

But a couple weeks ago, on a pleasant fall afternoon during the last 10 minutes of a weekend hunt, Brosnan almost lost Joe forever.

"Within 30 seconds of him leaving the car, he was coming towards me in the grass and he got caught in a trap," Brosnan said.

But it wasn't just any trap. This was a Conibear trap, also known as "body grip trap." Its purpose is to catch bobcats, raccoons and other wild animals. But in this case, Joe became the victim.

"I saw Joe jump up and try and shake the metal from his face," Brosnan said.

The trap is designed to break an animal's neck. It was snapped tight around Joe's throat, cutting off his air supply. What was worse is that neither Brosnan nor any of his hunting buddies knew how to get it off. Frustrated and feeling helpless, Brosnan began to say his goodbyes.

"I don't know the release. I don't know how to get this off of you. I'm sorry, I just have to be here with you; but I can't do anything to help you. That's basically all I was trying to tell him," Brosnan said.

After a few minutes, Joe wasn't moving and lost consciousness. Brosnan and two of his friends still tried to pry the trap off, as a courtesy to Joe. After about 5 minutes, they finally got it to release. Brosnan says what happened next was the biggest shock of all. Joe began to cough.

"For a second I felt a heartbeat and so I tried to breathe for him by pumping his chest. My friend Devin actually took a breath and gave him CPR through his mouth," Brosnan said.

It worked. Joe began to whine and they rushed him to a nearby vet. By the time they got there he was starting to move around. Joe got lucky. According to the group Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping, seven dogs have been killed by body grip traps since January.

Earlier this year, legislation was passed to prevent dogs from getting caught in these traps. But Brosnan says even though he isn't against trapping - and this one appeared to be legally set - there was no way he could have kept Joe from getting caught in it.

"People are losing their pets," he said. "Families are losing their pets. Nobody wants to see that, so they need to make an adjustment."

Brosnan said he still has the trap that Joe got caught in and is willing to give it back to the trapper.

He said he would like to see some changes as to how the traps are used, including a safety release that is easier for people to operate.

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