Companion Animals in Traps

Steel-jaw leghold traps used for the capture of wild furbearing animals inflict terrible suffering on their victims. The American Veterinarian Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the World Veterinary Association, and the National Animal Control Association all agree that leghold traps are inhumane.

AWI opposes the use of these traps for wildlife. The indiscriminate use of these traps poses grave danger to companion animals as well, when traps are hidden along wildlife trails that may be used by companion animals. If a dog or cat should have the misfortune to step on the pan of the trap and trigger it, the trap’s jaws slam violently together on the poor animal’s foot or leg and hold it in a vice-like grip.

The pain is so intense the animal may struggle fiercely in an effort to break free. Injuries can include torn or severed tendons and ligaments, joint dislocation, lacerations, and broken bones. If circulation is restricted or cut off to the trapped limb, gangrene can set in quickly. Some animals bite at the traps, trying to get away—even gnawing their teeth down to the jawbone. Still others are known to chew off their own trapped limbs to escape.

People who attempt to release their own dog or cat from a trap may end up being bitten because of the animal’s frenzy. Some traps are set up alongside or in the water, and trapped animals are typically pulled into the water, where they drown.

Any animal freed from a trap should be rushed immediately to a veterinarian for treatment. It is critical to look for gangrene as many trapped animals required amputation of the foot or leg because of necrosis.