22 febrero 2009

Dog chews through limb to escape leghold trap

Una perra se amputa una pata mordiéndosela para escapar de una trampa

Sula, la mascota de Gen y Tamara Bausman, había desaparecido. Los Bausman pasaron días buscándola pero no encontraron rastro alguno de su mascota. El pasado 30 de enero, alrededor de las 9 pm, Sula apareció en su casa. La cuestión es que la felicidad de Tamara al ver a su mascota nuevamente se transformo en horror al ver la lesión de Sula en una de sus patas delanteras. Sula fue atrapada por una trampa ilegal para coyotes y tuvo que amputarse su pata mediante su mandíbula para poder escapar ...

A beloved family dog is lucky to be alive after she had to chew her front leg off to escape what is believed to have been an illegal leghold trap in Manitoba.

If it was a trap that damaged Sula's leg, it was likely intended to capture coyotes in Manitou, a small community about 160 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

Manitoba Conservation officials are investigating and say they expect to call in the RCMP and provincial animal-control officers.

Sula, a collie-border collie cross, disappeared Jan. 20, leaving her pups and mate behind at home.

Gene and Tamara Bausman spent days searching their rural, 138-hectare Manitou property, never once hearing her distinctive bark or even a whine.

"After 10 days, we thought she was dead," Tamara said, adding Sula had never run away before.

On Jan. 30, Sula came home. It was dark, about 9 p.m., and it took a few minutes for the Bausmans to realize what their dog had suffered.

"My jaw dropped to see her. I was thrilled," Tamara Bausman said. An instant later, her joy turned to horror.

"She was hobbling on three legs. She was really scrawny; she'd lost most of her fur. There was no blood, but there was three inches of bone sticking out where her left front leg should have been.

"She had her shoulder, but just barely. Below that was torn flesh and there were veins going down the bone. I freaked."

There's no emergency vet in the area, so the Bausmans fed the ravenous dog and waited for morning. Tamara lay down with Sula. The dog slept fitfully, jerking up every few minutes and wildly swinging her head around, obviously terrified.

"I don't know how she defended herself out there. There are a lot of coyotes around here," Tamara said.

Sula's was a horrific injury, but it's one the veterinarian who amputated her rotting leg has seen before.

Dr. Jackie Enns said she often sees suspicious cuts or broken bones or other mysterious injuries in pets at her clinic and believes leghold traps did the damage.

She said she saw a couple of particularly bad cases in the past year in the area around Morden, about 130 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

In one, a small dog was brought to the clinic with a deep, distinctive mark around her neck. Miraculously, she lived.

In another, a large dog lost an eye. In that case, the mark covered the dog's muzzle and up into the eye-socket area.

Enns suspects the trapper released the dogs when checking the traps for coyotes. But although the wounds are strongly suggestive, it's all speculation, as no one has seen the traps.

"The (wounds) we've seen at the clinic have all been (done) with steel teeth. The bones were broken with one snap. One snap, and it was gone," Enns said.

"That takes a lot of force to break it off . . . We use bone saws here, and I can tell you, I sweat to do that."

Leghold traps with steel jaws, smooth bands or jagged teeth were banned on land in Manitoba a decade ago. The province was the first jurisdiction in Canada to outlaw the devices many consider barbaric.

They're still legal in the rest of the country, mostly because of the fur trade.

"It's sickening when something like this happens," Enns said.

"The idea of animals running around with three limbs and the fourth limb rotting off, it makes me not able to sleep at night."

A recent animal welfare study concluded that one in four desperate animals caught in a trap will chew off a leg to escape the agony, only to die later of gangrene and infection.

Trappers call it a "wring-off," when an animal chews or twists off its own leg to free itself.

Sula now has three good legs and a foot-long scar from her back to her belly where her left front leg used to be.

Vets have a name for survivors like Sula, the ones with three legs.

They're called tripods.

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