Indiana Couple Faces Jail, Fines, for Rescuing Dying Baby Deer
A couple from Indiana saved an injured fawn over two years ago when they found her nearly dead from coyote bites.
While on patrol, Connersville police officer Jeff Counceller said he discovered her curled up on a neighbor's front porch. She was unable to stand.
Counceller called his wife, a registered nurse, so she could help it as he did not have time. His wife approached the deer, and the deer responded by licking her hands.
They didn't know it at the time, but bringing in a nearly dead animal is illegal according to Indiana's Department of Natural Resources, and is punishable by fines and jail time.
"I could feel all of the open wounds all along her back side and she wouldn't stand up," Jennifer Counceller said.
The deer had puncture wounds along her hips and maggots were living in it. She said the deer would have died if they left it.
The DNR said that's what should have happened. They told them to take the animal out into the woods and leave it there, allowing it to die.
"She would have laid there and starved to death and had a miserable death," Jennifer said.
Instead of taking her back to the woods, they opted to save her and take her to their 17-acre farm. They started caring for her and gave her a small bottle of goats milk. They called her "Little Orphan Dani."
Now, the family faces charges after a six-month stressful investigation done by the department, including half a dozen visits to their home.
The DNR said it was illegal to keep the deer; a misdemeanor offense with a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail.
The department said the only solution was to euthanize the deer, saying that the deer was a safety threat to humans and couldn't be released into the wild.
On the day of Little Orphan Dani's scheduled execution, she was no where to be found. Reports indicate that Jennifer Counceller's 80-year-old father released the deer in the morning before it could be euthanized, but no one can prove it.
The Councellor's have no regrets about what they did.
"No matter what the law is, we did what was right for the animal," Jennifer said. She and her husband deny having anything to do with letting the animal free, but say anyone could have done it.
"She was very popular," Jeff said.
They plan to fight the alleged crime, even though court fees could reach ten times the threatened fine.
"Sometimes, it's not always about the DNR laws," Jeff said. "Sometimes it's about common sense and what's right in God's eyes. And that's what I'm going to stand for."
They have created a Facebook page and placed a petition on change.org.
The case may go to court in February for a jury trial.