Journalist’s Dog Caught in Trap, Stoking Controversy

By Beacon Staff

Several of our readers forwarded me a blog post by Jonathan Weber, the editor in chief and owner of NewWest.net, whose dog was injured when it had its leg caught in a trap set near a popular hiking trail in Missoula over the holiday weekend. (Disclosure: Weber helped start the Beacon.)

It’s a story that will make any dog lover furious. As a warning, it’s a got a bit of profanity too, expressing his anger at what happened to his dog. What’s worse are the accusations in the comment thread following the story alleging Weber staged the photo as part of some animal rights agenda he supposedly has (but which I, in working for him both at the Beacon and NewWest, have somehow never noticed).

I took a good deal of criticism from many readers after I wrote a feature on a trapper in Evergreen this past April that failed to mention problems between pet owners and trapping, or take into account the views of people who believe the state should more strictly regulate where trappers can place their traps. Indeed the group, Footloose Montana, is mounting a ballot initiative to ban trapping on public lands, and over at the blog 4&20 Blackbirds, some are speculating as to whether opponents of the ballot initiative are the ones posting the nasty comments about whether Weber staged the photo.

If you’re interested in the issue, check out the NewWest post and see for yourself. From Weber’s story:

It’s a walk I’ve taken hundreds of times, a trail that runs alongside the Big Flat irrigation ditch near the confluence of the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers. My nephew, in his first year at college in Portland, is here for Thanksgiving, and we were wandering along the riverbank just off the trail, with our two dogs nosing about nearby. Suddenly there was an odd “thump” followed by frantic yelping. My dog Rontu, a sweet and shy Norwegian Elkhound, had gotten caught in a leg-hold trap.

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