‘Shepherd chewed off foot to escape trap’

Pet returns to Maple Ridge home with gruesome injury

Dr. Bhupinder Johar of the Haney Animal Hospital with the shepherd he believes chewed off her own foot to get out of a trap. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

A German shepherd that went missing before Christmas walked to its Maple Ridge home on Friday morning with a back foot missing.

White bones protrude from the bottom of its leg, and veterinarians believe it may chewed its own foot off to escape a trap.

It’s a mystery, but making that theory plausible is the fact the same owner’s other dog had its head caught in a snare just two weeks earlier.

Someone is setting traps in the neighbourhood where Suzie Finlay lives on Dewdney Trunk Road, near Stave Falls.And that person is not checking them regularly, she says.

Two-year-old Tsunni has always wandered, but always came home at night. So Finlay believes she has been in the trap for virtually the entire 37 days she has been missing.

Dr. Bhupinder Johar of the Haney Animal Hospital said she has dropped from more than 70 pounds down to 57, and that would be consistent with a long period of starvation, drinking rain water, eating only grass, her own feces and chewing off her own foot to get free.

“She freed herself by biting the flesh and ligaments,” said Johar. “The only solution we have is to cut the leg.”

Where human amputations take place leaving as much limb as possible, a dog’s leg amputation must be quite high to ensure the pet doesn’t try to use the limb, so she will lose complete use of the back leg.

He said costs could run to $3,500.

Finlay said she saw a bit of hair sticking above the window sill on Friday morning, and didn’t dare hope her pet had come home. She opened the door, and Tsunni came bounding in. Then Finlay saw the gruesome injury.

Finlay’s other dog, a Shepherd pup named Buddy, was caught around the neck in a snare of a style that tightens as its prey struggles. Buddy needed almost $2,000 worth of surgery and veterinary care.

He had been lost for five days, and was found with cuts that circled his neck.

“They basically had to put his head back on,” she said. “We call him Frankendoggie.”

After that horror show, the Finlay family built a pen in the back yard for their pets.

However, Tsunni took off one day when they just let her out for a quick pee.

“They chase coyotes in the back 40, but they always come home,” said Finlay.

She said the family will need financial help to get Tsunni surgery, and she plans to try a gofundme page oneline. (Warning: there are photos of the injured leg on the site that might upset some viewers.)

She has never done a charity page before, but Finlay says she has little choice.

“It’s either that or I have to put her down, but she has fought for 37 days, and she’s an awesome dog.”

Johar said the intended victims of the traps are likely coyotes.

“These are the poor innocent victims. If they are putting out traps, they should check them – if not every day then at least once per week.

“Even with a coyote, if they want to trap and kill them, it has to be humane.”

Actually non-killing traps generally must be checked every 72 hours, while killing traps or snares must be checked every 14 days minimum.

The Conservation office in Maple Ridge received a complaint from Finlay about the use of traps in this case, and is investigating.

Tsunni has a good appetite, and is eating regularly with no problems.

She whines constantly.

“She’s so pretty,” said Johar. “She will be okay. She will be a special pet now.”

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