Bellevue rescuer of Great Pyrenees relives ‘nightmare’ when dog was caught in coyote trap to warn others of the danger

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When a five-year-old rescued Great Pyrenees sheep dog named Olaf accidentally became caught in a coyote trap on Friday morning while on a walk west of Bellevue, Idaho, rescuer Gary Tickner had a real fight on his hands to help bring the dog and himself to safety.

According to the MtExpress, Tickner had been on a routine hike at Rock Creek with his 10 rescue Great Pyrenees, when five-year-old Olaf stepped into a leghold meant for coyote trapping. Olaf had wandered slightly off the path to check something out and had fallen in a trap pan covered with dirt. Although coyote trapping is prohibited on the 10,000 acre Rinker Rock Creek Ranch, there remains a small island of public BLM land where trapping is legal, however the area had not been clearly marked nor was that trap or the other ten traps nearby.

Tickner explained what happened next after Olaf became trapped describing the experience as a “living nightmare.” As he attempted to free Olaf, the other nine dogs, normally very docile, attacked.

When one Pyrenees dog cries, it turns this switch on and others in the group will jump on it and start attacking it, kind of a pack mentality. They see a weakness in this injured dog, want to take the vacated spot and move up the hierarchy. It was five minutes of fighting dogs off, standing over Olaf trying to block him from the other dogs. That’s when one bit me and Olaf – thinking it was me who’d hurt him – bit me several times through my knee-high boots and on my hands. I thought I might bleed out, and that was it.


When Tickner was finally able to fight himself free and release the trap from the dog’s leg, he went back to the car and first drove to the vet for Olaf and then drove himself to the hospital. Tickner underwent surgery to repair the deep puncture wounds in his knee and calf. Olaf had his wounds dressed and is expected to fully recover.

Tickner and his partner run the Unega Mountain Dog Rescue, a non profit that takes in abandoned and neglected sheep dogs. They now have 15 dogs ready to be adopted and ten permanent residents living with them including Olaf.

Gary wants to warn everyone about the foothold traps that can legally be placed within ten feet of an unpaved trail. In order to pry them open, a person needs to use both hands and full body weight. In Idaho, coyotes are classified as predators and can be hunted, trapped and baited without any restrictions. Under Idaho law, the traps must be checked every 72 hours, however one can only imagine an animal trapped there for three days and the apparent cruelty involved. What about nearby cattle or another dog? The suffering must be unimaginable.

Meanwhile Gary and his dog are slowly healing, but Olaf has suffered an emotional breakdown and is often heard whimpering.

For more information about the Unega Mountain Dog Rescue and how you can adopt or help, please click here.

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