WARNING: The story below is tragic and deeply disturing. We share it because we firmly believe wildlife poisons like the sodium cyanide in M-44s must be banned. We have been working since 1990 to do just that, and are optimistic that new legislation we’ve been working on will soon be introduced in Congress.
— On March 11, 2017, a Wyoming nurse named Amy went out for a day trip with her family to enjoy a walk on the Wyoming prairie about 50 miles northwest of Casper. They had been to the particular spot many times before to antler hunt, let their dogs get exercise, climb on the beautiful asymmetric sandstone rock outcroppings, and have lunch together.
Amy’s companions on this beautiful pre-spring morning included her husband, her 8-year old daughter, and their two Drahthaar dogs—Abby and Vita. Amy’s sister and brother-in-law also came along for the adventure and brought their two Weimaraners—Molly and Stella. Molly was a rescue dog from Colorado, the third rescue Amy’s sister had the privilege of adding to their family. She and her husband had not had children, and had dedicated their lives to their dogs.
Their destination was public land. They were aware of private land in the area and very much respected landowners rights, but they had studied the map and were not worried about entering private land because it was further than they planned on going. After leaving the highway, they crossed many cattle guards. Towards the end they drove through a closed gate, which they reclosed to keep any potential livestock contained. They then drove approximately 1/4 of a mile to where they had parked many times before. They paid careful attention for cyanide trap signs because they had their beloved dogs with them, and Amy’s young daughter, Roxy Marie.
They walked for a few hours, looking for antlers, climbing on the rocks, and taking pictures. Then they headed back to the truck to have lunch while the dogs stayed close exploring the prairie. After lunch they decided to walk a different way, returning after about an hour and a half to where they had stopped before lunch. At one point Amy’s husband was a little ways away and she thought she heard him hollering at the dogs to come closer.
That’s when the horror began. She looked up saw him running down a hill holding their 15-year-old dog Abby. Abby had cataracts and Amy assumed she had fallen off of an edge or large rock and hurt her legs. She asked what happened and her husband yelled in a loud panicked voice that the dogs had gotten into a cyanide trap. Amy could not believe what was happening. They ran to a nearby creek to try and help Abby by washing her face and mouth out. Amy tried to pry Abby’s mouth open but her jaw was clenched too tightly.
They were unaware of the magnitude of what just happened. They could hear she was having difficulty breathing and was unable to stand and her eyes were fixed looking straight ahead.
Before they got to the water Amy looked up the hill and saw her brother-in-law carrying his 7-year-old Weimaraner Molly. She said she felt like they were in a war zone. Her husband yelled for her to get the other two dogs and to keep them close.
By the time they got Abby to the creek they knew that trying to wash the cyanide out of her body was not working and she was dying. Amy glanced up towards the bank of the creek and saw her sister and brother-in-law carrying Molly by her feet, upside-down. No one could believe this was happening to them.
Abby’s breathing continued to get worse. Amy’s family petted Abby and kissed her face while telling her they loved her, wanting to show her as much love as they could to ease her dying. In retrospect they realized they were exposing themselves to the cyanide that had sprayed on Abby’s face and was going to be the cause of her death.
Amy walked a few steps over to her sister and brother-in-law where they had Molly lying. Amy’s brother-in-law was on his knees with his forehead resting close to Molly’s face and he was sobbing. Molly was not breathing, she was gone. They all kissed her and told her how much they loved her, again exposing themselves to the deadly cyanide.
Amy walked back over to Abby. Her husband was holding her and they hear the last few gasping breaths of their sweet dog, Abby was now gone. They were all crying, Roxie Marie was sobbing, and the two dogs that were still alive kept coming over and smelling their companions. This was the worst, saddest, and most traumatic day they had ever been through. They sat there holding their dead dogs for some time in disbelief. Amy said she remembers thinking “This is complete, unnecessary horror.”
The group needed to get the dogs that were still alive back to the truck immediately to keep them safe and alive. Amy took Vita by the collar and began walking back to the truck with Roxy Marie and her husband. Her sister took Stella by the collar and followed. Before putting the dogs in the back, Amy’s husband went to his tool box and got two shovels. She realized at that time that they were going home with only two of their beloved dogs. Amy’s husband walked back over to where the dogs had died, where her brother-in-law had stayed.
“We decided to bury our beloved dogs together because in their world they are cousins,” Amy said. “We couldn’t take them home with us for cremation because we did not want to harm the dogs that we still had alive.”
We will let Amy tell the rest of the story in her own words:
“Some time passed…it seemed like an eternity,” Amy said. “Then we saw the two of them walking on top of the cedar ridge. They each had a shovel in their hands resting on their shoulders. My sister and I broke down. I guess we were still in disbelief and hoping to see two dogs following behind them. We stayed by the truck for a while all facing back where the dogs had been buried, crying and hugging. Then we all slowly got into the truck and drove out. This day has been hell.”
“Not a word was spoken on the long 50-mile drive home. All you could hear in the cab of the truck was crying and sniffling. I looked into the back of the truck through the window and saw Vita and Stella setting under the shell of the truck looking at us and I am sure wondering where their sister dogs were.”
“This is my story, and no matter how horrible it is for me to tell it I must do it. I don’t want anyone else to go through such horror. We love you and will miss you desperately Abby and Molly!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy wanted us to add that at no time while being in the area did they see “private property” or “no trespassing” signs. After the tragedy they did more research and discovered there was a 10-15 acre section of private land in the area that is land-locked by public land. Using their GPS they found they had unknowingly entered that small section of private property by approximately 100 yards when their dogs found the cyanide traps.