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Dog Trapping Incidents: The Cardenas’s St Bernards | Casper, WY

Trap Incident Investigation Report
Date Occurred: November 29, 2014
Location: Casper, WY
Victim Species: Domestic Dogs- St. Bernards
Victim Names: Brooklyn, Jax, and Barkley
Owner Name: The Cardenas Family
Victim Outcome: All 3 Dogs Killed
Trap Type: Snare
Trap Legality: Legal
Legal Outcome:

One Family Tragically Lost 3 St. Bernards. A Family Member’s Account:

On the evening of Saturday November 30, 2014, four-year-old St. Bernard Brooklyn failed to come home when called. The Cardenas family, her owners were very concerned because this was completely out of character for her, as she never wondered very far from home. Their property borders state land and is surrounded by many residences. The family is big lovers of this breed and purchased the land to give their animals more room to roam.

They looked all over but found no sign of her. They contacted The Casper Humane Society, Metro Animal Control, posted on Wyoming Lost Pets, and various other social media sights in an attempt to find her and bring her home. After hearing no word about her on Tuesday December 2, 2014 20-year-old Savannah Cardenas and 18-year-old Braylon Cardenas set out onto the state land to once again look for any sign of her. They took with them two year old male St. Bernard’s Jax and Barkley hoping they could possible pick up her scent.

They were less than a mile from their home when the situation quickly turned deadly. Barkley took off after some game. Savannah quickly caught up with him and initially thought he fell and broke his neck because he was lying limp. She called her mother Ashley who was at work at the time screaming into the phone that Barkley was dead. Braylon was investigating the dog further when he yelled to her that it was a snare trap. Jax was very close by them when he too got caught up in a trap. Braylon and Savannah tried desperately to save him trying to get their fingers under the trap in an attempt to pry it off as he slowly was strangled to death right before their eyes.

When their father Bobby arrived home he could hear Savannah screaming from the house. He grabbed a pair of wire cutters and went to help. Even using wire cutters he had a difficult time cutting through. They began CPR on Jax in an attempt to revive him but it was to late. That quickly two 180-pound St. Bernard’s were dead. Their neighbor was coming to aid in the retrieval of the dogs when he discovered Brooklyn’s 200-pound body less than 100 yards from someone’s residence along a fence line that borders private property. She too was caught in a snare only hers was around just her muzzle.

They were devastated and initially very angry over the incident. They called the sheriff but were told by him when he arrived that there was nothing they could do. The Game and Fish were called and they initially told the Cardenas’s that they couldn’t come out until Friday to investigate. As this was unacceptable they demanded for them to come out sooner.

A man from the Game and Fish arrived on Wednesday afternoon and the Cardenas family walked out with him to show him where this all happened. Savannah almost stepped into a trap while they were walking. All of the traps were marked except for one, the trap that snared Brooklyn. The state land was currently being leased and the trapper would have needed to get leaseholders permission. While they said they would continue investigating the Cardenas family was told that very likely nothing would come of it. The regulations regarding trapping are pretty vague giving them the freedom to pretty much do what they want.

The decision was made to go public. If nothing was going to be done the Cardenas family felt others needed to know. People have a right to be made aware of the dangers that are lurking so close to their homes. They wanted to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

The tragic loss of the Cardenas family’s St Bernard’s, Jax, Barkley and Brooklyn has sparked a great deal of controversy state wide. Though a well-covered story, comments made via social media have left people with a number of unanswered questions. As a close member of the family I hope to answer some of these questions while proposing some of my own.

One of the questions has been regarding the proximity of the dogs snared to a residence. In answer to this question, Brooklyn was found a mere hundred yards from a residence along a fence line that borders private property not far from the Cardenas residence. And while within regulations this brings about a question that needs answered by the community. How close is to close? How close to your pets and other loved ones do you feel trappers should be allowed to set these deadly traps?

Questions were also posed regarding leash laws as well. On state land as long as your pets are within range of voice command they do not need to be leashed. This is public knowledge. Some thought leashes could prevent a dog from being snared, however a leashed dog could possibly get snared as well. Jax and Barkley were being supervised by Savannah Cardenas and Braylon Cardenas at the time of the incident and were within range of voice command when snared.

There were many who thought snares posed no real threat to humans. With research I have found many incidents of humans being caught by the leg. It is a possibility that people should be aware of. Savannah almost walked right into one while showing the Game and Fish where they were. Snares and other traps are not often very visible to the human eye. Savannah and Braylon tried desperately to get their fingers under Jax’s snare to stop him from being strangled to death. Had they managed to do that they could have lost fingers. Knowledge is power, do your research and educate yourself on this issue. Learn how to free yourself and your pet. Has this issue made you more aware of the dangers?

The final question is did the trapper do anything wrong. While the snare that caught Brooklyn was not properly tagged the rest of the numerous traps found were. Labeling traps is a regulation of the Wyoming Game and Fish however the Cardenas family was told that they were not going to site anyone when nine out of ten traps were marked. The land is currently being leased however the issue of the trapper having the lease holders permission is not the Game and Fish’s responsibility but will hopefully be addressed. How do you feel about how the Game and Fish handled this situation?

Many people have been pointing fingers in an attempt to place blame while the real issue isn’t being addressed, trapping regulations. Trapping will likely never be banned completely regardless of people’s beliefs. Regulations can be adjusted however, to allow room for the safety of people and their pets. While trappers have the right to trap people also have the right to enjoy state land safely. This is where I propose the final question. Do you wish to support a change in regulations? There is an organization in Wyoming called Wyoming Untrapped that is focused on promoting education, reform and advocacy in regards to this issue. For more information please visit

To wrap this up I would like to let the community know that after completing this article Saturday I received a phone call. Ken Ball, area rancher, wanted to express his gratitude to the Cardenas family for coming forward with their story. “Their story saved my dogs life today,” said Ball. Ball explained that because of their story he was more prepared and aware of the potential dangers. He was able to stop his dog just moments before sticking its head through a snare trap.

The Cardenas family was very moved to hear Ball’s story. This situation has caused our entire family a great deal of emotional turmoil. The hurtful and angry bickering via social media on top of that has been overwhelming. It was very nice to hear that despite all of this their story was able to save someone from sharing their same fate.

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