LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Questions surrounding the humaneness and legality of coyote traps are emerging after video of a dog in Lexington County with its foot stuck in a coyote trap went viral on social media.
The dog has since been rescued by local advocates with the help of an animal rescue group from California called Hope for Paws.
The effort was spearheaded by local animal activist, Kimberly Cockrell and her husband, Todd, with the help of Hope for Paws' Eldad Hagar and Loreta Frankonyte.
Rescuers say after the dog was stuck in the trap for more than five days. They devised a plan to rescue her after it eluded Lexington County Animal Control all week.
"She never once barked at us, she never once growled at us. We stopped, got down to her. Eldad pets her back, and she just looked at him. It was almost as if she was grateful for the help," says Cockrell. "I think she understood we weren't chasing her to harm her, we were there to help her."
The dog, now named Hermione, was taken to a local animal hospital where she underwent initial surgery.
Now, the dog is on a cross-country road trip with Hagar and Frankonyte to Los Angeles where she'll undergo further surgery on her paw.
But, these rescuers are now asking the following questions: why was the trap set in the first place? Whose was it? Were the proper precautions and steps taken to ensure it was a humane trap?
According to sources with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, a trap like this was likely set to trap a nuisance animal, like a coyote.
In the past 10 years, wildlife biologist Jason Peeples says coyotes have become a major issue across the Midlands.
"We have not been able to find live traps that are very good at catching coyotes because they are very wary of their surroundings," Peeples says. "So, the foot trap is a very productive management tool for coyote control."
Cockrell and others say they just don't accept that to be the best possible way.
"This trap was rusted. This trap was not anchored, this trap was not being checked," Cockrell said. "So a lot of things failed."
There are some restrictions and mandates surrounding these traps. For one, fur trapping season has ended. It is lawful to trap fur-bearing animals from Dec. 1 to March 1 of the following year with a valid Commercial Fur Harvester's License.
DNR officials say this trap was likely not set for this reason, though they can't say that for sure.
All traps must also bear the owner's name and address. Or, it must have the owner's SCDNR-issued Customer ID number directly on it or on an attached tag.
When properly set, the traps should not be able to come loose, which indicates that this particular trap was not set properly. Trappers are advocating better education for those who use them.
"A lot of times, they drive to the hardware store, they buy the trap, and when they buy the trap they don't necessarily get all the education that comes with it," Peeples says.
Meanwhile, Hermione is on a cross-country journey to California to get additional surgery - her rescuers are posting updates from every state.
To check those out, head to Frankonyte's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/xoxoloreta/?ref=br_tf
You can also read more about Hope for Paws here: http://www.hopeforpaws.org/