Before I get into the meat of this blog, I would like to say Thank You to the Walton County citizens who are responsible pet owners. By that I mean the ones who follow the ordinances concerning free roaming animals. I'm not going to quote them here because they are available for viewing on the Walton County website. Every year I run a trapline here in Walton, I will catch a free roaming dog or cat on occasion. Last year, on the Farm, I was checking traps and found one tripped in a pasture. I figured that it had been tripped by a deer and didn't think much about it. The scents, lures and baits I use on my line are specific chemical triggers that are instinctively very attractive to canines and cats. A few days later, the landowner called me and said he had received a very unkind phone call about me catching this owner's dog in a trap. He also told me that someone had trespassed onto his property and shot one of the coyotes I had caught 3 times in the head. I asked the landowner for the person's number and called them back. I found that the owner that lived across the lake lets his dog run loose quite a bit. He told me that it got caught in one of my traps on the Farm and he came over and let it loose. He also told me he shot the coyote that was in the other trap. I proceeded to inform him in a calm, clear but matter of fact way that:
1. It is clearly against State law for anyone to touch my traps but myself and the DNR.
2. He had trespassed twice onto this landowner's property to retrieve his dog and execute a wild animal that I had caught, which is also against State law.
I explained to him that I was under contract on this landowner's property thru the cattle birthing season and if I had any more issues with him or his dog, I would pay him a visit with Walton Animal Control, the DNR and the Walton County Sheriff's Department in tow. He then began backing up saying he tried to keep his dog up but it "got out sometimes"
Fortunately, I did not have any more issues other than I caught a wild pregnant feral bitch dog with no collar in a trap near the slough and some feral cats. The other day as I was setting traps back on this property for the upcoming calf season again, guess what I found. This perps' dog tracks AGAIN, on the Farm and they had come from the same house across the slough. So, trying to keep from catching it again, I went back up the logging road, further onto the cattle farm property and set my trap. Guess what, yesterday when I was running the line, I found that trap tripped and sitting outside of the trap bed. I have just installed brand new springs on my traps for this upcoming season and there is no way any canine could have escaped and left the trap as it was.
I will be back there today checking for footprints. If I find human tracks leading to the trap and back to that house, guess who I'm gonna call? Perhaps this guy didn't "understand" what I explained to him last year so an explanation from a Law Enforcement officer might get through to him. For the readers on the Patch, I am going to explain how I handle a caught domestic on my trapline. The technology of the traps today is much improved over the past. The jaws are very smooth and due to the design of a coyote's larger front foot, they are designed to hold them as you would grab someone by the wrist and hold on tight. They are designed with the animal's comfort in mind. They are NOT designed to injure, maim or anything of the sort. This is untrue propaganda put out by PETA and the HSUS to further their agenda. It is also to envoke emotional responses from the person who is uneducated in the realities of the major benefits my Profession provides. Many times I walk up on coyotes asleep in my traps. Any animal I catch other than Coyotes I released unharmed.
When I catch a domestic dog on my line:
1. I look to see if it has a collar and Rabies tag. If so, and it is friendly enough, I will release it and contact Walton Animal control to pick it up. I am not going to waste my time contacting an irresponsible pet owner to return his pet. He is going to Walton Animal.
2. If I catch a dog with no collar or Rabies tag. I leave it in the trap until Walton Animal Control can arrive. I have been dog bit before and I don't know if this animal is infected or not. The same goes for cats, domestic or feral.
There was a time when I was very young and lived in the country that my grandad had six dogs that stayed in his yard whenever he was outside, but I remember many nights lying in bed with the window open listening to those same dogs running deer, bobcats or whatever. Times have changed and laws have changed. You can be financially devastated if you have, what Georgia law considers a Vicious Dog", and it gets out and bites a child.
I am just asking the good citizens of Walton to be responsible. If you choose to have a pet, you assume the responsiblility and liability that comes with that decision.