Here's the author's eyewitness testimony:
Yes, if any size of body-gripping trap strikes optimally on the neck of a smaller dog (with the full force of two steel bars on the neck), it's harder to rescue that dog.Yes, if a larger body-gripping trap strikes optimally on the neck of any size dog (with the full force of two steel bars on the neck), it's harder to rescue that dog.
Don't count on instructions to release your dog from a body-gripping trap.
My fifteen-pound Jack Russell Terrier was killed by a #160 body-gripping (conibear) trap on 1/26/2012. I had read the MTA trap-release procedure in the MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook, and I was right behind him with one hand on each spring, trying to release the trap from his neck. Unfortunately, I was unable to compress the springs enough to release him.
Then I went to the second step: twisting the trap ninety degrees to take the pressure off of his spine and throat (and to rest the pressure temporarily on his neck muscles). Unfortunately, I could not twist the trap, because it had crushed his little neck into its own wide, rectangular shape, and I wasn't able to compress the springs enough to open up that rectangle. I clamped my hands onto the springs with all of my strength and tried to twist the trap, but I only twisted his soft neck along with it. I remember seeing clearly how his little neck fit into a rectangle a little wider than the width of the jaws and less than an inch thick. Flaps of his skin and fur were obstructing my view of the spring loops and the trap mechanism. It was impossible to twist the trap without wringing his neck.
If I ever thought I would need to go to the third step, I would have learned it from the Handbook, bought a trap, and practiced the "rope method alternative" with it. Unfortunately, this "alternative" appears at the bottom of the procedure with the qualification "if you cannot squeeze the springs of the trap by hand, a piece of rope, your belt, or a dog leash can help gain the necessary leverage..." "Well," I thought, "I can squeeze the springs of a trap. What could be so hard about that?" So I hadn't practiced the "rope method alternative," and of course I didn't recall it under stress.
Phillip died within a few minutes.
I was able to release the trap after he was dead. I set the trap on its end (further damaging his neck) and applied my full body weight to one spring at a time. Somehow, I managed to find and figure out each "safety lock," free up a hand, move the hook to a workable position, and fasten it over the opposite steel bar--under a great deal of spring tension.
After I had released Phillip, I tried CPR, but his respiratory tract had been crushed; when I breathed into his nose, one hand around his mouth, all I could breathe into his lungs was a bubbling trickle of air. After holding out hope and continuing the CPR far too long, I gave up and carried his little body home.