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 her
"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 said.
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
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 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.