01/15/2015 06:45 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Woman’s dogs almost lost to coyote snares

A woman from eastern P.E.I. spent a frantic day this week after her two dogs disappeared when they got caught in snares set for coyotes.

Patricia Oulton of Alexandra, just east of Charlottetown, had her dogs – Boss, a 70-kg bull mastiff and Brody, a 4-kg Jack Russell terrier – with her while she was doing barn chores Monday morning when they disappeared.

“I had a bad feeling as soon as they were gone, because it's not like to them not to come back or not to be able to find them anywhere,” said Oulton.

Friends and neighbors searched on foot, ATVs and snowmobiles. As temperatures dipped, snow fell, and the hours wore on, Oulton began to lose hope. She learned a neighbor's dog was caught in a coyote snare two years ago and died.

Late Tuesday afternoon, after 30 hours of searching, Oulton received word a local trapper had just released Brody and Boss from snares.

Provincial chief conservation officer Wade MacKinnon said his department is investigating the trapper for possible Wildlife Act violations, but he noted dog owners have to be aware that snaring season is on.

“It runs from November 15th til January 31st for coyote and fox,” said MacKinnon.

“Trappers need permission to be on private property. Dog owners have to be aware that there's people trapping in the area, and that their dogs cannot be running at large.”

MacKinnon said other dogs caught in snares this trapping season were not as lucky as Boss and Brody. This is the fifth incident of dogs caught in snares this season, and two weeks ago a dog in Murray River died in a snare.

There are currently three dogs missing in Kings County that MacKinnon said he has received calls for help about.

The conservation department sees a few cases of dogs caught in snares every year, but five is more than normal, said MacKinnon. That may be because the lack of snow is allowing more access for dogs into the woods.

Oulton said she will be keeping Brody and Boss leashed from now on.