Cat Rescued from Leg Trap in North Pole

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / December 1, 2003

By Mary Beth Smetzer / Staff Writer

Stray cats are not uncommon in North Pole, but a domestic cat dragging a No.1 leg-hold trap prompted a rescue effort by neighbors along Salmon Court off Repp Road earlier this month.

One of the frightened feline's rescuers, Everett Williamson, helped capture the young adult cat Nov. 1 from under a shed with only about 4 inches of clearance.

"It took us about two and a half hours," Williamson said. "Finally, we took a stick and hooked the trap and pulled him out. He was pretty calm."

Today, the green-eyed, long-haired black male cat is convalescing at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter after undergoing amputation of its left front paw.

Trapping season opened Nov. 1, but according to Dr. Jeanne Olson, a veterinarian and director of the animal shelter, the cat likely was caught in the trap before that date. Its paw was frozen solid when it was found. Eric Engman/News-Miner NINE LIVES--Nick, a cat at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter, rests in a chair Friday afternoon, less than an month after getting his front left paw amputated. Nick was found stuck in an illegal leg trap in the North Pole area off Badger Road on Nov. 1.

The weather was still mild then, she said, and from the condition of the cat's limb at the time of its rescue, it most likely it had been in the trap for two days.

Williamson said the trap the cat was dragging was brand new with a sticker still on it.

"We checked with Fish and Game, and found out there is no law against trapping in the area," Williamson said, "but there is a law that traps have to be identified."

Olson and shelter staff cared for the cat they named Nick for five days to determine the extent of its injuries before most of its paw was amputated by Dr. Jeanne Maddux at Aurora Animal Clinic. Nick also was neutered. The nonprofit Animal Shelter Fund paid for the surgeries.

Only one tiny pad remains on the underside of Nick's left leg, but he is expected to make a full recovery and eventually be put up for adoption.

"He is using his leg more every day," Olson said.

Olson said it's not uncommon for local veterinarians to see a half-dozen dogs injured in traps each year, but she has never seen a cat in a leg-hold trap before.

Like many stray animals, Nick turned up at the shelter without any identification--an unneutered tomcat without a tag or an ear tattoo.

"He is the epitome of a shelter animal," Olson said. "He's a stray and he got into trouble.

"If an animal doesn't have identification, we don't have a clue," she said, adding that the shelter offers free pet tattoos.

But despite Nick's lack of credentials, he has won the hearts of shelter employees who hint broadly about making him the shelter's second house cat. The friendly, laid-back cat has made friends with everyone including Bill, the 24-hour feline rodent control officer.

"He's a real sweetheart," Olson said.

Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at or 459-7546.


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