Bigger dogs need bigger traps.
officers build missy trap
Building the Missy Trap.
| Credit: El Dorado County Animal Services

Authorities last month trapped a pair of German shepherds who were abandoned off a highway in California using a creative, mega-sized humane trap. 

The two young pups, now named Toby and Ash, evaded the animal control authorities in El Dorado County for two weeks, according to the Mercury News. (El Dorado County is a large, forestry county in eastern California bordering Lake Tahoe.) 

The two neglected dogs were abandoned near U.S. Highway 50. Officers found them, but they would run into steeper terrain where officers couldn’t follow. Being a bigger breed, they were also smartly avoiding the first humane traps the officers put out. 

"One of our officers had heard of a unique trap called a Missy Trap that is used to humanely capture larger domestic animals when conventional traps don't work," Henry Brzezinski, chief of the county’s animal services, says in a news release. "We decided to give it a try. Staff researched the necessary materials, which included livestock fencing panels, and put the trap together. We also placed a remote camera near the trap so that our on-call officer would be alerted if the dogs went inside."

At its most rudimentary, the Missy Trap is a big ol’ cage. Food is placed inside as bait, and when the dog goes in to eat it, they will activate the switch or plate that closes the door behind them. In this video, for instance, the food is suspended from the top of the cage and connected to the doorway. When the dog rises up and eventually pulls the food down, the cage door shuts. 

The trap is named for Missy, a golden retriever who escaped her Minnesota family. Searchers located the general area she was occupying, but the traditional, smaller traps were working. She almost appeared to mock those attempts. So the searchers built the bigger trap, and viola, the successful Missy Trap was born. 

It was successful in this case, too. According to the News, bait consisting of cat food, liver pâté, and dog kibble coaxed the dogs in where they were trapped. 

A veterinarian reported both Ash and Toby were malnourished, one of them severely. They were also wearing metal chain collars that had become “embedded” in their necks. One of the pups needed surgery to have it removed. 

"They both were very scared at first, but they're starting to feel more comfortable, eating and responding to follow up care by our shelter staff. We expect them to fully recover," Brzezinski says.

The buddies will be put up for adoption as a pair.