SHOCKED dog walkers had to free their pet from an illegal trap set in a popular nature reserve.
Barbara Ford and partner John Humble were walking their two dogs in Sunderland’s Fulwell Quarry, when her 18-month-old shih tzu Bobby disappeared into woodland.
When the pooch failed to respond to calls, the worried pair followed his whimpers into thick bushes.
Barbara, 43, and John, 48, found the frightened dog in a metal cage, which had been baited with a tin of salmon and four bones.
“He went into the bushes and he had obviously smelt something,” said Barbara, a health trainer.
“It took us about 15 minutes to find him and he was inside a trap that had been set up for baiting badgers or foxes.
“It was metal and about big enough to get a small child into.
“I didn’t know how to get him out, as it was covered in bushes. At first I did not realise he was in a crate, but when my partner pulled the pushes away, he realised it was a trap.”
Luckily John, who works for Citizens Advice, found a bolt which opened the cage door.
Barbara explained: “When the door shuts, the bolt comes down and the animal can’t get out.
“We opened the door and freed him, but we couldn’t leave the trap.
“All they had to do was set it back up again.”
The angry couple called the RSPCA, Sunderland City Council, which owns the land, and Northumbria Police.
Now Barbara, of Tanfield Gardens, Marsden, wants to warn other dog owners to be on their guard.
“The police said there are probably going to be more traps up there, so I just want dog walkers to be aware. If it had been night-time then we never would have found him.
“I’ve been walking dogs up there for about two-and-a-half-years.
“What worries me is what they are doing with the animals once they have caught them.
“They are not trapping them to set them free.
“If people see anybody acting suspiciously up there then they should report it.”
Bobby, who Barbara has owned since he was six weeks old, was shaken but unhurt by his brief time behind bars.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “At 2.42pm on Saturday, January 12, police received a report from a member of the public that they had found some kind of trap in an area of woodland at Fulwell Quarry, Newcastle Road.
“Officers attended and located the trap, which was removed and destroyed.”