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Front Page » May 2, 2002 » Local News » Animal control officers discover cat trap, urge citizens ...
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Animal control officers discover cat trap, urge citizens to report suspicious activity

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Staff reporter

County animal control director Patti Pierce explains the design used to make an illegal trap discovered Tuesday morning by Price ordinance enforcement official Byron Allred. The trap's heavy steel door could injure animals entering the device. Trapping domestic cats and dogs is illegal unless the pets are turned over to animal control immediately.

Most Carbon County residents have lost a pet at some point in time.

Many people have lost cats and dogs to death. For other pet owners, animals simply disappear - particularly independent felines.

But the problem of disappearing cats is becoming acute in Carbon County.

Since last fall, at least 100 cats have come up missing from homes in the area and the number includes only the incidents that have been reported.

"It's almost an epidemic," explains Patti Pierce, the director of Carbon County animal control. "In Kenilworth alone, I have had 30 cats reported missing this past winter."

But the problem isn't limited to outlying areas of the county.

"Lately, we have had a lot of reports of missing cats out of the Indian Hills area," points out Pierce. "Something is going on."

Pierce and other animal control ordinance officers in the county had their suspicions about where the cats may be going.

The suspicions were confirmed when city ordinance enforcement officer Byron Allred picked up a home made trap Tuesday morning in south Price.

The discovery appears to indicates a fairly large scale trapping of domestic cats and possibly small dogs.

"We are concerned that someone or some group out there is trapping cats to use for various reasons," said Pierce.

There have been hints that people may be using the animals for target practice or possibly for hound dogs to chase and kill.

"If that is being done, it is highly illegal," emphasized Pierce. "In fact, if this trap is any indication of what is being used to catch cats, it in itself is illegal."

The discovered trap had a half-opened can of cat food hanging from a rat trap on the top of the device to lure in the animals.

When an animal started to eat the food, the rat trap was set up to spring and drop a quarter-inch plate steel door over the entrance.

The trap was framed by two-by-fours and chain link fencing.

The steel door on the trap raised a major concern.

The heavy door could maim or kill a second animal following behind the first cat to enter the cage. An animal remaining under door could also be maimed or killed.

An uninjured animal would also suffer, being forced to remain trapped in the cage until someone let it out.

"Catching domestic animals and not turning them over to animal control is also illegal," indicated Pierce. "If people need to trap animals like skunks or raccoons, they need to use a legal trap. Traps like this are awful."

Pierce encourages Carbon County citizens to be on the lookout for illegal traps.

The county agency's director also urges citizens to report people who set the devices or who use trapped animals for the designated unlawful purposes.

Violations involving the unlawful traps and associated criminal activities are class B misdemeanor offenses. Convictions can carry up to a $1,000 fine.

In a related development, Pierce recently purchased a "cat kennel." The kennel is set up outside of the front door at the county animal shelter.

"I saw this in a magazine," pointed out Pierce. "People who are having problems keeping their cats on their own places always tell me that there is no way to do it if you let them outside. This works very well. People have kennels for their dogs - why not for their cats?"

The kennel may provide a solution for residents who worry about wandering felines and what may happen to the cats.

The so-called "sport" of using dogs to kill cats is not new to Carbon County. A number of years ago, there was a rash of similar activities. In addition, Pierce worries that some people in the area may be getting into "dog fighting."

"I am very concerned that we have some people who are hurting animals," concluded Pierce. "It just isn't right."

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