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Photo credit: Dave Clark

Don’t let Roxy die in vain

Dave Clark loved his dog, Roxy. He also loved his daily walks with Roxy, many of which they took on public lands near…

January 31, 2019

Dave Clark loved his dog, Roxy. He also loved his daily walks with Roxy, many of which they took on public lands near the northern New Mexico town of Española.

Last Thanksgiving weekend, Dave went for a hike with Roxy on public land that he’s walked for nearly 20 years. But this walk was different. Instead of the usual joy, they found tragedy. Roxy got trapped in a neck snare set for a bobcat, fox or other wildlife whose coats bring value on the international fur market. Dave valiantly tried to save Roxy’s life, but he couldn’t remove the snare, and Roxy died in his arms.

To add insult to injury, as he was returning to his car, carrying his dead dog in his arms, Dave was startled by the hissing and snarling of a bobcat that was also caught in a trap. That bobcat later had to be euthanized by a state wildlife official.

This should never have happened. I pray it never happens again. I want to make sure that it never happens again.

WildEarth Guardians and the TrapFree New Mexico coalition are pushing to end trapping in response to this, and the many other, tragic stories—told and untold—about domestic and wild animals who die in traps. This past week three state representatives in New Mexico, Bobby Gonzales from Taos and Matthew McQueen from Galisteo and Christine Chandler from Los Alamos introduced a bill to ban traps, snares and poisons on public lands.

Hopefully that bill, which will be called Roxy’s Law in her honor, will become law, and New Mexico will join its neighboring states of Colorado and Arizona—and many other states—in banning the inhumane and indiscriminate practices of leg-hold traps, snares and poisons on public lands.

I can’t imagine having to watch your dog die of such a barbaric act.  Within moments of experiencing the tranquil beauty of the great outdoors, Dave was racing against time, trying to free his dear friend from a deadly trap.

It’s a horrific story that must be told…again and again.

This story isn’t just about Roxy. It’s about thousands of other animals like Roxy, both domestic and wild, caught and killed by traps.   Roxy is dead and Dave is left traumatized. As Dave shared in media reports, he’s now afraid to hike on public lands for fear that it could happen again to his other dog.

But trauma can be a catalyst for catharsis and, eventually, even epiphany. In Dave’s case, he’s become an advocate to ensure that Roxy’s death will not be in vain. He supports the bill to ban traps, snares and poisons and will testify when it comes before the relevant committee in the New Mexico legislature.

Of course, for every Roxy there are thousands of untold stories of wild animals who die a cruel death. Let us not forget that trapping is legal on public lands in New Mexico and that thousands of wild animals from bobcats and foxes to coyotes are trapped and killed every year. While many of the animals are targets, most are not—tragic victims of an indiscriminate and inhumane practice.

My plea is that your tears or your rage—or both—catalyze you to get motivated and get involved. Learn about your state agency, whether in New Mexico or any other state that has a wildlife agency that allows trapping or that allows bear-baiting or wildlife killing contests or some other barbaric, scientifically indefensible practice.

Dave met Roxy as an abandoned pup on the side of the road near the Four Corners in 2010. He cared for her every day of her life—until it ended. Sometimes it is a death of tragic circumstances that inspires what couldn’t happen before.

If you want to help ensure that Roxy’s death helps save the lives of other companion animals and tens of thousands of other wild animals, then get involved by writing to me today.

***NEW MEXICO RESIDENTS ONLY*** Help end trapping in the Land of Enchantment. Send a letter to your legislators asking them to support HB 366, “Roxy’s Law”!

John Horning

About the Author

John Horning | Executive Director, WildEarth Guardians

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