An afternoon walk turned into a matter of life and death for an Okotoks man and his dog on Sunday.
Cody Caissie, 23, was walking his two dogs on the pathway along South Railway Street when the trio veered toward the river near Cameron Crossing School.
“My dogs had never been into deep snow like this before so I thought it would be cool,” said Caissie.
When they tried to return to the pathway, one of the dogs was struggling on the leash, he said.
Baayo, a three-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback, had sniffed out some food in the snow and got caught in a coyote snare that had been tie-wired to a tree.
Caissie immediately called 911 for assistance and while he waited 25 minutes for the RCMP to locate them by the path, he did everything he could to help Baayo.
“I had to put not quite half of my index finger between his jugular and the snare or he was going to die,” said Caissie. “I just took him for a walk and all of a sudden here he is, trying to breathe for his life.”
Meanwhile, he called a neighbour, who rushed to the scene with a pair of bolt cutters. The RCMP weren’t far behind.
They managed to free Baayo, and the dog was rushed to SAVE – Southern Alberta Veterinary Emergency – in Okotoks, where he was treated and monitored overnight. It cost Caissie $1,300 but his dog is expected to make a full recovery.
It was nearly a different story.
“The vet said about another six minutes with this on him, he would have been done,” he said. “His eyes are bloodshot and really inflamed, it’s swollen around his eyes and I know he’s got two tonsils that are pretty swollen that we need to keep an eye on, but other than that I think he’s going to be okay.”
Caissie said part of the delay was that the RCMP didn’t know where to find him. He intends to visit Town council and make a case for installing checkpoint signs along the pathway system to help direct emergency responders to incidents.
He said he doesn’t know where the trap came from and there were no signs in the area indicating a trap had been put out by Fish and Wildlife or the Town of Okotoks.
Okotoks CAO Elaine Vincent said the snare does not belong to the Town, and that the incident has been reported and is under investigation by Alberta Fish and Wildlife and the RCMP.
“There are currently no active traps in town, and we are currently only trapping in one area and will look at that towards spring again, but it is not anywhere near this location and all of our traps are underwater,” said Vincent.
Caissie said he’s certain it was an illegal trap, and he’s worried about other people finding themselves in similar situations with their pets or children.
“Like my neighbour said, if there’s one, there’s more,” said Caissie. “My main priority right now is to let the people of Okotoks know to be cautious of where they take and walk their dogs.”