Sweet Cat Survived A Week In A Barbaric 'Kill' Trap

"It is beyond comprehension that trappers are not required to report when they inadvertently trap someone’s pet."

This is Drei’s life now: He’s surrounded by love, affection — and most importantly, he’s safe.

Lupe Sears

But not so long ago, when he was a stray, he was enduring unthinkable suffering.

That’s because he happened upon a deadly trap in Vermont that a hunter had set out to catch wild animals. Known as a body-gripping, Conibear or simply "kill trap," these mechanisms are meant to shut closed around the body of any animal who nibbles at the bait set there. 

Conibear trap
A body-grip trap similar to the one that nearly killed Drei | Wikimedia Commons

It’s believed that Drei was caught in a trap like this for a week before he was found by an employee of Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists (BEVS) and rushed to the hospital. The photos of Drei caught in the trap — which were obtained from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (VFWD) by Protect Our Wildlife (POW) via a public records request — show Drei's mangled foot and a protruding bone. Most of these images are too disturbing to reproduce here. 

"These traps are designed to kill animals and it’s surprising that the cat survived the tragedy,” POW said in a statement. Drei’s mangled leg had to be amputated, which cost over $2,700, and he spent months recovering in a foster home. 

Cat caught in kill trap

Even after an investigation, no one knows who set the trap that nearly killed Drei, although it’s believed it was set for a muskrat considered to be a nuisance wild animal in the area. 

“Trapping under the guise of nuisance wildlife control is totally unregulated in Vermont and is responsible for much unnecessary suffering of targeted species and non-targeted animals,” Brenna Galdenzi, founder and president of POW, said in a statement.

And it isn’t just Vermont. Every year across the country, millions of animals die in traps, which are not only inaccurate, victimizing non-target animals like Drei, they are also needlessly cruel, making terrified animals suffer for days before hunters find and kill them. 

Cat with three legs after run-in with trap
Lupe Sears

Had no one requested the public record, no one would have known about Drei’s brush with death — something that could happen to anyone’s pet. "POW submits public records requests to the Department on an annual basis in an effort to educate the public on the non-targeted animals who are caught in traps each year, ranging from cats and dogs to Vermont endangered species like the American marten,” POW said. "Trappers are not required to report when they trap a dog, cat or other non-targeted animal in their traps.“

That means that more cats and dogs are caught in these deadly traps than we ever hear about. And they simply vanish.

Cat saved from trap
Drei relaxing in his new home | Lupe Sears

"It is beyond comprehension that trappers are not required to report when they inadvertently trap someone’s pet,” Dr. Peggy Larson, a long-time Vermont veterinarian, said in the release. “As someone who has tended to trapped cats, I can tell you that the pain and suffering these animals endure is morally and ethically unacceptable.”

For one cat, Drei, the week he spent suffering in the kill trap is becoming a more distant memory. And a woman who works at BEVS fell in love with the sweet cat and decided to give him the forever home he always deserved.

Now he’s meeting new friends and learning what it’s like to be part of a family. 

Lupe Sears

“We hope that in the wake of tragedies like this one, people will take action and demand better protections for all animals who are at the mercy of these traps,” Galdenzi said, adding that she wishes Drei “a full recovery and a long life.”

Cat saved from trap at forever home with other cat
Lupe Sears
You can show your support for a bill in the Vermont State Legislature, H.262, which seeks better regulation of trapping, by contacting the VFWD at fwinformation@vermont.gov. You can also help expose more stories like Drei's by donating to POW