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Dog Owners Concerned Over Traps Even After Legislation Passes

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Some Minnesota dog owners asked lawmakers to change how body grip traps are used. Lawmakers responded, but not in the way some dog owners had hoped.

John Reynolds, whose dog was killed in a body grip trap, says the law that passed is worthless.

"It won't stop dogs from dying," he said.

Body grip traps are supposed to kill bobcats and raccoons. But in December, Reynolds' springer spaniel, Penni, got caught in one and died. The same thing happened to Scott Slocum's dog, Phillip.

"They passed nothing," Slocum said. "They passed something that looked like something, but it was nothing."

Loren Waalkens had to use CPR to save his beagle, Frisbee, after she got caught in a body grip trap.

"The clock is ticking. It's a matter of time before one of my dogs dies in these traps," Waalkens said.

None of the men are happy about the new law regulating body grips. Reynolds, who is a trapper, wanted to see the traps elevated 5 feet off the ground, where dogs can't reach them. Lawmakers decided to make it three feet instead.

The law also allows body grips to be set on the ground, so long as they are in a box with a 7-inch cover over the front.

"The only thing that's changed is they put a 7-inch awning on it," Reynolds said. "Somehow we are supposed to believe that a dog won't stick its head in that trap."

But Rep. Tom Hackbarth, who helped author the bill, said the changes will help.

"I think you will find this is a good compromise," he said. "I think you will find there won't be any dogs caught in these."

Hackbarth said the traps are humane, and elevating them five feet off the ground would have rendered them useless.

"That really eliminates that trap from use," he said. "You aren't going to catch anything in that trap."

But Reynolds argues the trap that killed his dog last December is essentially the same one that will be used this fall. And all three men plan on coming back to the Capitol until they feel their dogs are no longer in danger.

"Nothing was solved. My dogs are no safer today than they were before," Waalkens said.

Reynolds said he's not going to stop speaking out until dogs stop dying.

Reynolds said body grip traps have killed about 30 dogs in Minnesota over the past two years. He has a petition with over 2,500 signatures and he plans on forming an organization to push for another law change.

Trappers against future changes say dogs can be trained not to go into body grips and that if dog owners manage their dogs on public land they won't have a problem.

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