Tuesday, December 07, 2004 By Morgan Jarema
The Grand Rapids Press
LOWELL -- Diane Smith's purebred Brittany spaniel, Ginger, was a big
reason Smith moved from Grand Rapids to Lowell a couple years ago.
The 4-year-old dog loved the water and to chase birds on walks with
"We were together all the time," Smith said. "In my
car or my paddle boat, she had to sit right next to me."
One of their favorite spots to walk was where the Flat and Grand rivers
meet on the city's south side.
The last time they were there was Nov. 10. Smith let Ginger off her
leash to run. She said the dog stayed about 20 feet ahead of her, always
looking back to make sure she was following.
"And then I heard a noise I can't even describe," Smith
Ginger had walked into an animal trap that was placed illegally on
city property. A Lowell ordinance prohibits trapping within city limits.
"I can hardly put my brain around what happened," Smith
said. "I just started screaming 'Ginger! Ginger!' I couldn't get
the trap open. There was nothing I could do."
The trap had closed around Ginger's throat. Smith stayed with her
pet until she stopped breathing, then walked about a half-mile to the
Lowell police station.
Officer Chad Bustraan drove Smith back to the spot and carried Ginger's
body to his cruiser. He then drove Smith home, where she buried the
dog with help from family and neighbors.
"I can't convey in words how I would have felt if that had happened
to me," said Bustraan, a dog owner. "It was difficult but,
at the same time, I had to maintain my composure."
Bustraan checked the area and found no other traps.
Smith recently placed a wreath at the spot where Ginger died. While
she is determined to not remember her dog with anger for those who
placed the trap, she does want them to know what she lost that day.
She cannot talk for long without tears.
"I would ask them, 'What were you thinking?'" she said, "and
'Do you know how much heartbreak you have caused?'"
The trap, designed to catch small animals, was attached to a cord
tied to a nearby tree and was baited with a container of fish guts.
Police have no leads. Traps are required by state law to have tags
that identify the owner. The one that killed Ginger had partial owner
information from Mecosta, about 70 miles away, but Bustraan said that
owner told police he sold all his traps at a garage sale nearly two
"Unfortunately, these things change hands an awful lot," Bustraan
said. "It has to be a local person, someone who knows the area."
Bill Fuchs, a state Department of Natural Resources game area manager
and wildlife technician, said if the person who placed the trap is
found, he or she could face penalties including improper trapping on
public land, violation of the city ordinance, trapping out of season
and failing to register the trap.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell Police Detective James
Hinton at 897-7123.