AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – An Auburn couple whose dog was severely injured in a coyote trap behind Ogletree Elementary School is sharing their ordeal to make other families aware of the dangers.
Deborah Newton and her husband understand there is a coyote problem where they live near Grove Hill neighborhood. However, they say the USDA’s solution of trapping the wild animals turned into a frightening situation for them and their 10-year-old lab.
Thursday Deborah Newton and her lab Haven were walking trails near their home behind the school on a path she can access from her property.
“We came up the pipeline behind the fire station, and my dog went to sniff something not three feet to the right of me, and she was leashed, and I heard her scream. She got caught in a coyote trap that I found out later was set up by USDA per city request,” said Newton.
Newton couldn’t spring the trap or dig up the spikes stuck in the ground to keep the trap secure. She called her husband and tried to keep Haven still while he rushed from work to find them.
“I laid down on her so that she wouldn’t move. She was trying to eat her foot off and eat the trap off,” said Newton.
Newton’s husband was able to free Haven’s leg from the trap. They carried Haven off the path and took her to the vet, who said Haven extremely fortunate only to have a hairline fracture.
“USDA called this morning and apologized and said they were unaware people used those trails as much as apparently, we do,” said Newton.
Newton says her neighbor’s dog has also been caught in a coyote trap and injured near the same location. Auburn City Manager Jim Buston was made aware of the situation over the weekend after Newton posted about their ordeal on Facebook.
Buston says the problem is tricky as other families want the traps out because large coyotes have killed their pets.
“We have had complaints from some citizens out there who have lost some of their pets to the coyotes, and some of the animals we have seen out there are very big, and even people with smaller children were concerned,” shared Buston.
Buston says, moving forward, the city is working with the USDA to share more information about the traps with residents. Newton says she saw one USDA sign about the traps along the long trail, but she only saw it after Haven was injured and they were walking out. She’s upset her dog was hurt; Newton says she would be devastated if the traps injured a person or a child.
“I went across the creek and came up the pipeline; there was no sign. Now, if I had come down the pipeline, there was a sign, and we saw it on our way out,” shared Newton.
Newton said when she spoke with a representative from Auburn’s Animal Control; she suggested the USDA mark the traps’ exact location; however, she says it appears the agency doesn’t do that anymore because they have traps stolen when they are marked.
“Animal control told me if USDA mark the exact placement of the traps, then people steal them. I am like, it’s like a $12 trap – come on,” said Newton.
When they went out the next morning to take pictures of the trap, the family said it was gone.
Haven will recover from her injuries. Newton says the family has no intention of suing anyone or even asking anyone to pay their vet bills. The family would like all the traps removed, believing they do more harm than good. However, if the traps are used, The Newton’s urge the USDA, the city of Auburn, and Animal Control do a better job of signage and sharing alerts with families.
“I don’t think I will ever take my dog out there again, and I will never take my grandson out there, ever again,” said Newton.
We expect the city to release a video with the USDA showing people how to spring the traps we will share on our website. News 3 has reached out to the USDA, and we are still waiting to hear back from them.