Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Legal Animal Cruelty

The west is expanding, as is the north, south and east of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area and as we continue to sprawl, the needs and wants of humans will continue to clash with those in the animal kingdom. However, the story out of Kansas City this morning is not about residential neighborhoods encroaching on wild animals. Instead, it is that of a trapper clashing with domestic animals. For trapping to even still be legal in the 21st century and for the fur trade to be flourishing is something for civilized human beings to ponder, and is subject matter for another column. Still, trapping is legal in Missouri and many other States. As residential areas are built further into the countryside, many homeowners are starting to complain that trappers are catching domestic animals and pose a danger to children in the area as well. Trappers say that homeowners are encroaching on public lands they have hunted and trapped on for generations and affecting their livelihood.
The story out of Belton, Missouri, a once rural area in the not-too-distant-past involves Savannah and Bubba, two Mastiffs owned by Marcela Egea. Last Sunday morning, Egea allowed her dogs out on a usual Sunday morning run. They left their rural property and wandered onto public land, and got caught in fur traps owned by Michael Kartman. According to news reports, the traps were under an overpass, just 100 feet beyond a pond in Egea’s pasture. Kartman shot and killed the dogs when he said they became aggressive when he tired to free them. He told The Kansas City Star he’s killed dogs before and that going to nearby houses to find the owners would cost him time. “Those dogs were interfering with my business,” Kartman said in the article, which appeared on February 13. The Missouri Conservation Department said Kartman did nothing wrong, but was cited for littering the banks of the creek where he was trapping with “undesirable” animal carcasses such as a skunk, opossum and a raccoon. He snares fox, river otters and bob cat for money. He was also cited for not labeling his traps with his name and contact information.
A quick search of the Internet found that this is happening in areas becoming more populated all over the country. In Montana, when a trapper shot a couple’s beloved dog, they successfully lobbied for stricter trapping laws. In Arkansas, where my family owns over 30 acres of land, this became an issue just three months after my aunt moved there with their dogs. One of them became ensnared in a trap set along the bank of Bull Shoals Lake while roaming their property. My aunt could hear the dog howling, but couldn’t locate her in the dense brush and woods, where, in the mountains, the direction of sound plays tricks on the mind. The dog was missing for several days and finally limped it’s way home, dehydrated and a few pounds lighter. That same fall, hunters wandered onto their property with shotguns. After they were told they couldn’t hunt on their land, the hunters said they had been hunting there all of their lives and they would just come back and “burn their house down.” The land has been in my family for 20 years.
Last fall, another of their dogs met the same fate. But this dog, a rescue animal that spent most of its life fearing human contact, until finding my aunt and her husband, had only recently began to trust people enough to not cower under the deck. Again, the location of his yelping and barking couldn’t be located for two days. Finally, the trap was found and he was freed. Besides having a severely injured leg, two years of rescue work and training was set back. He spent the next few months once again cowering under the deck, afraid someone else might hurt him.
After a quick scan of the Internet, I found some chat boards discussing this story. Most were in favor of trapping—one participant even accused a writer of knowing nothing of trapping, saying that animals are not injured when caught in a trap. Huh? Is that why the Missouri Department of Conservation recently said in a release that they were partnering with federal wildlife management organizations to find the “most humane and effective ways to trap furbearers?” The release cites a study that says that the “most humane traps produce the fewest injuries (to the animals.)
According to the release, 200,000 people nationwide trap and it is a $1.2 billion industry. In Europe, trapping is banned.
My aunt, along with many other rural people realizes its time for a fence immediately surrounding their homes. They can no longer afford to allow their animals to naturally wander their acreage, as dogs don’t know where property boundaries stop and public land begins. I was recently struck by a quote hanging in my vet’s office that went something like, “I feel sorry for the man’s soul who has never been the beneficiary of a dog’s love.”
Gandhi said that the moral character of a nation is judged by how it treats its animals. It is also time that we, as a nation, not just give lip service to compassion. It will not only benefit our loyal companion animals, but also animals in the wild. It might even benefit our soul.

16 Comments:

Blogger Janet said...

It is sad that "Legal Animal Cruelty" exists. Reports on serial killers site animal cruelty as one of the first signs there is a problem. Seems our laws speak out of both sides of their mouth.

3:39 PM CST  
Blogger hooper2 said...

Too bad the golden rule doesn't also say, "Treat animals as you would treat yourself."

4:25 PM CST  
Blogger Idalesta said...

It is terrible the way that they let people treat animals. They are no different than we are. They need to make changes to help the animals and not make them stay in fenced in areas.

9:15 PM CST  
Blogger kcstoryteller said...

I agree with Gandhi. The unconditional love provided by animals is astonishing.

9:37 AM CST  
Blogger kcstoryteller said...

The unconditional love of animals is astonishing. They should be protected and nurtured.

9:38 AM CST  
Blogger debra said...

I am upset that traps are being set for any animals, but it is also upsetting that these traps are in our city around our children. Children, like our pets, do not pay attention to boundaries and traps. They both are curious and like to investigate. What would the trapper do if a child was caught in the trap? Would he think it was worth his time to search for the parents?

9:52 PM CST  
Blogger Gloria said...

First, this is not the wilderness, so why is trapping allowed? It should be illegal, and I hope Missouri legislators will review this arcane law. If they don't then I will forever think of Missouri as a "hillbilly" state.

9:50 AM CST  
Blogger Terri said...

I can't help but shake my head at this one. What happens when a child gets caught in one of these traps? Trapping should be outlawed, in my not-so-humble opinion.

11:07 AM CST  
Blogger Ann said...

Having recently become a dog owner, I shudder at the thought that this could happen to my beloved pet.

8:24 PM CST  
Blogger Equinekim said...

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1:51 PM CST  
Blogger Equinekim said...

This trapper will not be getting off scott-free! He did commit animal abuse and we are working on prosecution. Hunters and trappers are exsempt from animal cruelty laws in Missouri only as it pretains to wildlife, not domestic animals. The MDC said the trapper was leagl,As far as trapping for wildlife (not domestic animals). The MDC is only looking out for wildlife (so it's a dead-end street to try and press charges thru them). If anyone has a proplem with hunters and trappers you need to check out your city, and county laws and your state statues ( read all the subsections).

1:51 PM CST  
Blogger Equinekim said...

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1:51 PM CST  
Blogger Equinekim said...

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1:51 PM CST  
Blogger Equinekim said...

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1:52 PM CST  
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1:54 PM CST  
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1:57 PM CST  

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