Quadrants of Dog Owner's Goals vs. Trappers' Advice (Ethical or Slob).

Post date: Jan 19, 2015 6:26:38 AM


The grid above represents four situations in which a dog owner has a goal for protecting his or her pet, and a trapper has advice for that dog owner. In the top two quadrants, the dog owner's goal is to protect his or her dog from traps that are set for predators (or, really, from any traps that might harm or kill his or her dog). In the two lower quadrants, the dog owner's goal is different: to protect the dog from predators.

In the left-hand two quadrants, the trapper's advice to the dog owner is to keep his or her dog "under control." In the right-hand two quadrants, the advice is different: let your dogs be dogs. The acknowledgement that "dogs will be dogs" is an acknowledgement that dogs will sometimes roam off of the trails where they're walking with their owners, or out of their yards to follow a scent; or that people will sometimes let their good dogs safely off the leash to let them stretch their legs and run. It's also an acknowledgement that leash laws are not universal: that they exist only in certain cities, parks, and natural areas where dogs might otherwise cause problems for wildlife or neighbors.

So, in each quadrant we have one situation, one conversation, one comment made anonymously online under a newspaper article about a dog that was harmed or killed by a trap or a dog that was attacked by a predator. In the upper-left quadrant, the newspaper article might be about a little girl's little dog that was killed while he played with her near a walking trail (Orrick 2012). The unethical (slob) trapper's patent advice to dog owners would be to keep their dogs leashed. In the upper-right quadrant, the ethical trapper's advice would be for trappers to avoid sets that could harm or kill people's dogs, or other non-target animals (“Trapping Ethics” 2012).

In the lower-right quadrant, the newspaper article might be about a coyote attack on a dog--in the dog's yard (Gauthier 2011). Yes, that's alarming! But the unethical (slob) trapper's advice to dog owners would be to leave things with the dogs as they are, ignore the other food attractants that might be encouraging the presence of coyotes, don't waste your time trying to deter coyotes, but instead just bring in trappers to remove the "vermin." In the lower-left quadrant, the ethical trapper's advice would be to take expert advice, and implement an integrated program of (lethal and non-lethal) depredation control and coexistence.

In other words, if you're concerned about protecting your dog from traps, the unethical (slob) trapper's advice for you is to "keep your dog under control." So that he doesn't have to take proper, ethical precautions to avoid non-target catches.

On the other hand, if you're concerned about protecting your dog from predators, the unethical (slob) trapper wants you to forget he ever said that (about all of the responsibility being on you to "keep your dog under control"). Now he understands that not all dogs are going to be leashed at all times. Now he wants you to feel comfortable with whatever you're doing (even if it's contrary to expert advice on integrated depredation control), and leave everything up to him. So that he can be the important person who "protects" people and their dogs from predators.

See how many comments you can find to fit the pattern of the upper-left or lower-right quadrants of this grid, under articles about dogs being killed by traps or dogs being attacked by predators, respectively.


Gauthier, Ryan. 2011. “Second Edina Coyote Attack Spurs Council Response.” Edina Patch, May 3. http://patch.com/minnesota/edina/second-edina-coyote-attack-spurs-council-response.

Orrick, Dave. 2012. “Minnesota: Weekend Dog Death Highlights Dangers of Small Traps, Too.” Pioneer Press, October 25. http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_21854559/weekend-dog-death-highlights-dangers-small-traps-too.

“Trapping Ethics.” 2012. Minnesota Trappers Association. http://www.mntrappers.org/mtatrappingethics.html.