It’s a threat to your pet you won’t know about until it’s too late. Hank found Massachusetts dogs and cats being maimed, even killed by illegal traps. Why does it keep happening? Hank Investigates.

In just a second, the spring-loaded power of a leghold trap forced hard steel jaws to clamp shut on Wilson the cat’s leg. Luckily someone found the cat animal before it was too late.

Hannah, adopted Wilson, “They found him walking through the woods, dragging the trap behind him that was still caught on his leg,” she says.

Police in Westport raced the cat to an animal hospital, where vets removed the trap.

When Wilson finally recovered from the painful injury, Hannah adopted him. “It makes me very angry having seen what this can do to animals firsthand,” she says.

In Salisbury, August the cat came home crying in pain with a trap clamped to his stomach.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god! I had no idea what kind of trap, I knew it was a trap. I couldn’t figure out how to open it,” David, August’s owner says.

August needed several surgeries and almost didn’t make it.

In Barre, a trap snapped shut on a dog named Holly.

“We had to amputate her leg,” Lt. Alan Borgal from the Animal Rescue League of Boston says.

In Fall River, a dog named Cindy lost half her front leg after it was crushed by a trap. She had to be euthanized.

But steel leghold traps like the ones that maimed those pets are illegal to use in Massachusetts.

“They’re cruel. They’re inhumane,” Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy at the MSPCA says.

A demonstration by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting shows how the powerful traps
snap objects (large vegetables, pens and pencils) in half in an instant.

Why would someone set one of these?

For fur trapping, or to catch wild animals that cause problems. But these things will snare whatever steps on them.

“Whatever sticks their foot in gets caught. It can be a nightmare for the animal,” Lt. Borgal says.

And the nightmare continues because even though the traps are illegal to use in Massachusetts, we found there are no laws against selling the traps here. They’re cheap and easy to buy.

We ordered one online from a major sporting goods store and it was delivered to us in Boston.

We picked another one up at a local chain hardware store.

“We bought this (trap) there were no warnings saying these traps are illegal to use in Massachusetts,” Hank says.

“That’s a, that’s a very devastating trap to it, to wildlife or for someone’s pet. I haven’t seen one that big in quite some time. I’m really shocked that they would sell it into Massachusetts,” Lt. Borgal says.

Animal advocates worry that since it’s easy to buy the traps people might think it’s okay to use them. And they’re afraid it’s just a matter of time before another animal, or even a child, is caught in the grips of a dangerous trap.

“I think it needs to be stopped,” Lt. Borgal says.

It may be harder to get these traps as a result of our investigation. One of the stores changed its website and no longer ships the traps to Massachusetts. And state Representative Dave Rogers tells us he’s looking into filing legislation to make it illegal to sell the traps in Massachusetts.

If you’re having a problem or conflict with wildlife in your home, yard, neighborhood, or business and need assistance check out these MSPCA’s weblinks for help:

Intruder Excluder

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