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Smith Family
Okami died after getting caught in a beaver trap at Creekside Park near 9400 South and 500 West in Sandy on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. The dog jumped into a nearby creek and drowned.

SANDY — A dog died late Tuesday night after getting caught in a trap meant for beavers, and his owners wonder why there were no signs warning of the danger.

Fifteen-year-old Ben Smith was walking his dog, Okami, at Creekside Park near 9400 South and 800 West. It’s something he had done dozens of times. But during the walk, the 100-plus-pound dog got caught on a trap.

“I rush over, try to pry the trap off of him, and then he bites me,” Ben said Thursday, still in shock at what happened. “I got my hand out of his mouth, and he jumped in the creek.”

The boy said he tried to pull Okami out of the water, but dog kept going farther and farther downstream.

“Then it hit me: He’s going to die,” he said.

Ben called his mother, Deana Smith, and told her to get to the park right away.

"The phone call came, and Ben was screaming on the phone, ‘Okami's dying! There's nothing I can do! Okami's dying!'" she said.

She arrived at the park and pulled the dog out, but he was already dead.

The bindings from two traps had wrapped around Okami, making it impossible for him to get his head above water.

Scott Earl, Sandy's parks and recreation director, called the dog's death "a very unfortunate situation."

The city had been having problems with beavers at the park, Earl said.

"There were multiple beavers in here," he said, "because we had removed the dam initially and the dam got restored fairly quickly, along with another dam that’s farther to the west that was started to be built at the same time.”

The city put chicken wire around the bottom of trees and removed the initial dam that the beavers had built, but they wouldn’t move. As a last resort, Earl said, he contacted a trapper.

"Then we placed responsibility on the trapper to set the traps on the north side of the stream and in areas the public couldn't get to," he said.

The Smiths wonder why there were no signs in the area letting them know there were traps set up to capture beavers.

"There's no reason for us not to have some kind of warning,” Deana Smith said. “It could have been someone else's kid, someone else's animal."

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Earl said the city considered putting signs, but “if you sign it, sometimes there’s more of a problem with people coming down and trying to investigate the signed area.”

There are questions as to where the trap was set. Earl said the trapper was supposed to place them on the north side of the creek, but the boy said the trap was on the south side. Earl couldn’t say for sure where the trap was.

Because of this incident, all of the traps were removed from the park.

Ben remains devastated by the ordeal. He watched the dog he had for a year and a half die before his eyes.

“It’s a little gut-wrenching," he said, "but it’s better than someone’s child.”

E-mail: vvo-duc@ksl.com