Animal traps set for wildlife were responsible for injuring or killing at least 173 cats or dogs over a five-year period in Canada, according to research by The Fur-Bearers.

The animal rights charity collected data from almost every province by filing freedom of information requests. One notable exception was Ontario, where trap reporting was not mandatory.

“Since we don’t have the numbers from the province with the largest population in the country, the problem is likely far worse,” said Lesley Fox, executive director of The Fur-Bearers.

The group found that 56 dogs and cats were caught in wildlife traps in British Columbia, 30 in Alberta, 31 in Saskatchewan, 24 in Manitoba and 12 in Quebec from 2017 to 2021.

Kimberley resident Martin Brilling said his dog Jackson was choked by a conibear trap in January of 2020.

“He started screaming. He was just a little way off the trail and flailing around,” he recalled.

“He shrieked, like he was screaming for a few seconds, and then he couldn’t make any more sounds, and I realized he was suffocating,” Brilling said, adding that the only reason the dog survived was that he figured out how to free him from the trap.

The Fur-Bearers’ director of advocacy, Aaron Hofman, said not only are pets hurt, but owners can feel helpless and terrified if they see their four-legged friends being trapped.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking the trauma that they experience and the suffering they have to witness their dog or cat go through,” he told CTV News.

The group recommends mandatory reporting when a domestic animal is trapped, tags for all equipment, and at the very least, clear signage when a trap is in an area.

CTV News Vancouver requested comment from the provincial government on these recommendations but has not received a response.

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