Unsubstantiated reports of harassment impacting course
staff have been reported as a result of media coverage.
The Coltons’ goal is simply to avoid a similar tragedy from
happening again and does not support these actions.
The club sees the traps as necessary to protecting their
investment in the greens since new pesticide regulations
have limited their ability to control grubs and insects.
“The insects and grubs are more prevalent and because of
that things like skunks and raccoons are coming onto the
course,” said Shane Kelford, vice president of the golf club.
“It causes a significant amount of damage to the golf
SMITHS FALLS – On the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 10, Chris Colton decided to take her two new dogs for a walk at the Smiths Falls Golf Club. She decided to let them off their leashes to run across the golf course.
She certainly had no idea one of them wouldn’t be coming home.
Mocha, a six-year-old border collie, and her pup, Bailey, a three-year-old border collie, ran across a bridge and into some bushes off the 17th hole.
Chris thought they were chasing a squirrel until she heard Bailey’s screams. When Chris followed the screams she found the three-year-old dog’s neck caught in an animal trap.
Chris screamed for help and tried her best to open the trap, but couldn’t get it to release.
She ran for help, but it was too late.
The course’s greenskeeper picked up the slain dog and placed her into his truck.
“I feel very fortunate that Paul and Tyler were there,” Chris said.
“If I were alone I don’t know what I would have done. I probably would have drowned myself from the guilt.”
Chris said that she takes responsibility for the dogs being off their leashes, but she had no idea that deadly animal traps had been placed throughout the golf course.
“I just assumed the environment was safe,” she said. “What are they trapping for this time of year?”
Chris, a long-time member of the golf course, said she was aware that animals had been trapped in the past, but said she was not informed of the deadly traps being set this year. She said there were no signs warning people of the traps.
“We want some awareness done,” said her husband Hugh. “Should you not have a whole bunch of signs up, a gate on your property? There are people who cross-country ski across here. People walk their kids here. This trap killed a 47-pound dog, and it died an inhumane death.”
Vice-president and lawyer for the Smiths Falls Golf Course, Shane Kelford, issued a statement on Dec. 19 regarding the death of the Colton family dog. It reads as follows:
“The Smiths Fall Golf Club regrets the accidental death of Mrs. Colton’s dog, Bailey. The president of the golf club, the board of directors and members of the golf club staff have expressed their sympathy to Mrs. Colton following the incident,” read the statement.
Like most golf courses in the area, the Smiths Falls Golf Club has carried on a limited program of trapping over the past few years to control animals such as racoons and skunks…The trapping activity at the Smiths Falls Golf Club was recently inspected by a conservation officer from the Ministry of Natural Resources, and found to be in compliance with applicable regulations. The traps are placed in the bush on the course, a safe distance away from paths and walkways. The trap that Mrs. Colton’s dog came into contact with was approximately 50 metres from the nearest path, in dense bush.
As a long-time member of the Smiths Falls Golf Club, Mrs. Colton was aware of the past trapping on the golf course, and prior to this incident, she had been advised that traps again were being placed on the course, and to be cautious when walking her dogs. Unfortunately, despite this warning, Mrs. Colton chose not to leash her dogs while walking them on the golf course.”
Hugh said both he and Chris were unaware of the deadly traps, and that the course should have informed the public prior to setting them.
“Bottom line is there were no signs for kill traps on this course,” he said.
“If you don’t want people out there, put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs and close it off to the public in the off-season,” Chris said.
Kelford said the golf club’s board of directors considered posting ‘No Trespassing’ signs and declaring the course off-limits to all persons during the off-season, but will continue to remain open to the public in the future. He said that the golf course will adopt a suggestion from Chris, and begin posting prominent signs to alert people to the presence of traps on the course.
“Too late for our dog though,” Hugh said.
Hugh said that the golf course offered to pay for the cremation of Bailey, but the main issue his family is concerned with is increasing community awareness.
“I could have said thank you for paying for the cremation and putting up signs,” Hugh said. “But ‘Joe Public’ still doesn’t know the traps are out there. This can’t happen again, to another dog or anybody’s child.”
Since CTV aired this family’s tragic story, Hugh said he has heard of threats against employees of the golf course and has asked that whoever is responsible for the threats to stop.
“This isn’t about threatening people,” he said. “This was about awareness so it wouldn’t happen to somebody else. We don’t want to see employees of the golf course threatened.”
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