Tuesday, December 07, 2004 By Morgan
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
The 4-year-old dog loved the water and to chase birds on walks
with her owner.
"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
"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 years ago.
"Unfortunately, these things change hands an awful lot," Bustraan
said. "It has to be a local person, someone who knows the
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.