The Mansfield family is left grieving after their 3-year-old dog Casey was killed by a device planted by the U.S. government.
Canyon Mansfield, 14, was walking with Casey when he noticed something orange sticking out of the ground. He went over and touched it, and there was an instant hiss and a spray of orange powder.
Canyon jumped back in shock. He went to look for Casey, but the dog was lying still on the ground.
"He just stayed on the ground mumbling," Canyon told the Idaho State Journal. "I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him … So, I called him again and got really scared. [I] saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy."
Canyon ran to get help, but when he came back with his parents a few minutes later, Casey was dead.
But what was it that killed poor Casey?
The device was an M44, a cyanide trap the government plants to kill coyotes.
"M44s are incredibly dangerous by nature of what they are," Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said. "They put a scent lurer — like urine from a coyote in her heat cycle or another smell that makes the animal want to grasp the M44 head — and any coyotes, wolves, are attracted to it. They pull on it and that's when it goes off. With children and people — they are curious. It's like putting a loaded handgun on a table."
Cyanide strangles your cells, which suffocates animals to death. It also affects humans, so after watching his dog die, Canyon had to rush to the ER to make sure he was not harmed. Luckily, the boy was okay, but he's definitely traumatized.
"My son Canyon, who witnessed it all, is really struggling with what happened," Theresa Mansfield said. "It was above our house. It makes me not feel safe. I feel like I had terrorism in my own backyard, with my own government."
Perhaps the scariest part of all this is that there were no warning signs or markings indicating these traps were set, just 350 yards from the family home. Even the county sheriff was unaware they were placed.
"APHIS' Wildlife Services confirms the unintentional lethal take of a dog in Idaho," a spokesperson for the USDA said in a statement last week. "As a program made up of individual employees many of whom are pet owners, Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses."
A week before Casey was killed, two other pet dogs also fell victims to M44s in Wyoming.
Theresa and the entire Mansfield family say they're left feeling 'violated' after the death of their dog. They are hoping their story will bring awareness to the issue and ultimately lead to M44s being illegal.