Surgery, rescue groups save dog injured in snare trap

By Jeff Hage/Princeton Union-Eagle—

A young black Lab had something to be thankful for over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The dog, caught in a snare trap and first spotted Nov. 21 in the Princeton area, was the subject of many animal rescue groups searching for four days. The black Lab was found Nov. 24 and dramatically saved from what was destined to be an imminent death.

The day before Thanksgiving, the dog put her nose into a snare trap, according to Claudia Beckman with the Mahtomedi-based animal rescue, Pets in Crisis.

For days, the Lab tried to release the trap, not knowing her efforts only caused the wires to tighten, Beckman said. The dog could not eat or drink and was losing blood. Slowly the dog’s snout was being cut off by the wire, she said.

Princeton-based Ruff Start Rescue received a report about the injured dog. Ruff Start put out a plea on the Internet and Facebook, asking animal rescue groups to keep an eye out for the injured dog.

On the outskirts of Princeton Nov. 24, heading towards Milaca, a volunteer with Heading Home Rescue was able to bring the dog to safety. Another plea was issued seeking animal rescuers who might be able to transport the dog to a veterinarian, said Jan Karpel of Pets in Crisis.

Pets in Crisis was in the Milaca area, working on an animal rescue project, and sprung into action when the call to help save the dog came in.

A Pets in Crisis team arrived on scene and transported the dog to the Roseville veterinarian office of Dr. Lori Ballinger.

There is no doubt in the minds of Beckman and Karpel that rescuers and Ballinger saved the dog’s life.

“She would not have lived much longer,” Beckman said.

“She was in agony,” Karpel added.

The wires from the snare trap sliced up the dog’s nose and had cut deep into its upper palate, or roof of its mouth. The wire was embedded into the dog’s tongue, Karpel said.

“The wire was tightly, tightly embedded,” she said.

That’s because, as the dog twisted and turned to try to free itself from the trap, the wire embeds deeper, Karpel explained.

The dog, when found, still had wire coming out of its mouth, she said.

“Her injuries were limiting her ability to breath and because of its injuries it hadn’t been able to eat in days,” Karpel said.

That’s not all.

One side of the dog’s teeth were worn down from grinding the teeth, sustained from the dog trying to break free from the snare trap, Beckman said.

“Its back teeth were all broken off,” Karpel said. “She bit and bit and bit at the wire until she broke free.”

When the dog was found, infection was setting in and the dog was in shock, Karpel said.

Saturday night Dr. Ballinger performed an initial surgery on the dog to remove the snare trap wires from the dog’s nose and mouth.

“God bless (Ballinger) for staying open until 9 or 9:30 on a Saturday night so she could get to work on saving this dog,” Karpel said.

Sunday, the dog was in recovery. Monday, the dog, now renamed Trea, was accepted into emergency foster care by an organization called Second Hand Hound.

“She went to rescue so quickly because she needs one-on-one attention and now has some special needs food-wise,” Karpel said.

She will undergo some serious surgeries in the near future, including reconstructive surgery to repair the damage done to her nose from being cut by the trap wires and having her teeth pulled because of their broken condition.

“Trea’s injuries were horrific,” Karpel said. “There was no reason for this to happen.”

The injuries were the result of what Karpel calls unnecessary trapping.

“From our standpoint, this is the iconic example of why trapping shouldn’t be allowed,” Karpel said.

Trapping is not illegal, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns trappers about accidentally capturing dogs.

But that isn’t good enough for the volunteers over at Pets in Crisis.

X-rays showed that Trea, the Princeton dog, had a broken front right paw, sustained in a second snare trap some months ago, Karpel said.

Karpel is concerned when people suggest trapping is a tradition in Minnesota and that’s why it shouldn’t be abolished.

“Trapping is tradition? What does that mean?” Karpel asked.

“Does it mean we should cause agony to animals, including companion animals like Trea?” she said.

Animal rights education can eliminate the barbaric and horrific circumstances like those Trea lived through, Karpel added.

People wanting to help Pets in Crisis with Trea’s recovery and future reconstructive surgeries can do so by mailing donations to Pets in Crisis, 526 Florence Ave., Mahtomedi, MN 55115. The organization also accepts donations through Paypal. A link is located on the organization’s website at

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