WARNING: Some pictures in this story are graphic.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a hotly debated topic in New Mexico: whether or not to ban animal trapping. Now, a local rescue group is pushing for the ban after a lost pup barely escaped with his life.
When Argos Animal Rescue first found Kekoa, they didn’t think he would make it through the night. Now, after a miraculous recovery, he’s acting as their poster pup for change.
“Kekoa means warrior in Hawaiian,” said Kim Domina, Argos Dog Rescue founder. “Strength of a warrior and I think that’s what Kekoa is.”
A warrior who survived days with his leg caught in a steel trap.
“Officer Rico said that he was definitely caught in a leg-hold trap of some kind,” Domina explained. “And that he probably was there for a couple days.”
On November 27, Argos Animal Rescue and K-9 Rehab got a call about the horrific conditions Valencia County Animal Control found Kekoa in.
“He tried to chew his own leg off. He does have pretty horrific injuries,” Domina said. “He had bite wounds all over his entire body. We ended up having to amputate his leg because it was fractured.”
Tracie Dulniak with the K-9 Rehab Institute says this type of injury is becoming more and more common.
“We get a lot of these dogs that are coming in from other counties and other states that have been severely abused or injured through traps,” Dulniak said.
This leaves the injured dogs with emotional, physical and mental scars, a concern that Trap Free New Mexico says should be addressed.
“We shouldn’t have to rely on New Mexican’s dogs stuck in traps until we abolish the practice,” said Christopher Smith, advocate for Trap Free New Mexico.
It is a practice that state legislators have tried to ban before, but has remained legal.
Current laws say a trap must be 25 feet or more from a trail and checked every day. The only possible changes coming to the law, at this point, is that Game and Fish is considering increasing the setback requirement to 50 feet.
“Minor tweaks to the regulations aren’t going to keep people safe,” Smith said. “It’s not going to keep many pets safe but also, it’s not going to keep our native wildlife safe.”
Kekoa’s medical bills have exceeded $3,000. Argos Rescue and K-9 Rehab are now asking for help with those bills and boarding and are searching for a skilled foster parent to care for him because no one has claimed him.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the New Mexico Trappers Association for comment, but did not hear back.