Here in the Puget Sound we see deer all the time and some times we get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a fawn with its mother. What would you do if you found a very small fawn that was clearly injured and in need of help or it would die? Every Pagan will tell you that they would do what ever they could to help the small animal. In fact, anyone with a soul would do the same. In Connersville, Ind. a couple is facing charges for doing just that. Yesterday I found out via Cassandra Counceller, cousin of the now criminals that yesterday, Jan. 27, 2013, a petition was created in hopes to have these charges against the couple dropped. As of this morning it has 712 signatures.
Jeff and Jennifer Counceller may find themselves in jail for 60 days for helping the little fawn that Jeff found two years ago. "I was gonna put her back in the woods, but I seen the injuries and I knew they were life threatening so I called Jennifer," Jeff said. Jennifer add that "I couldn't let her just die there." The couple called the little fawn Dani and in no time the fawn was up and moving around, eating and doing the things that a fawn should do.
Jeff and Jennifer were very open about having the little deer. They purchased deer chow and talked about little Dani all the time. "It was never a secret that we had the deer. Everybody knew we had the deer. We never kept it a secret. We talked about it openly," said Jennifer. Then, the time was nearing to release her, the couple wanted to wait till the corn crops were mature so she would have no trouble finding something to eat. Although it broke their hearts after becoming so close to the deer they knew that she was not a pet and that she needed to be released now that she was an adult and able to care for herself. "We had already started decreasing our contact with her, trying to kind of dehumanize her and you know, get her used to us not being there," explained Jennifer. "We were about six weeks away from turning her loose," Jeff added in. That’s when everything went sour.
After having rescued and helped the little fawn heal from her injuries and raising her to adult hood they were visited by an officer from the Department of Natural Resources. "He asked me if we still had the deer and I told him I did," stated Jennifer. "He told me that I could maybe call Indianapolis and maybe get a rescue permit until you know, we could get her released back into the wild. So that's what I tried to do," Jennifer continued. In an attempt to do the right thing Jennifer had contacted the DNR and she was turned down for the permit. "She basically just told me that I was in illegal possession of the deer and that they would not give me a rescue permit," Jennifer said. Although it would seem that the DNR should have happy that someone was trying to do this properly they shut her down and made the couple into criminals. The DNR’s next decision makes anyone with a heart sick to imagine.
DNR officers advised the couple that they would have to put Dani down since she had been with humans for too long. They even went as far as to say that "She was a threat to society is what they said," Jeff said. "Their original plan was to shoot her with a rifle," recalled Jennifer who continued to say "then they found a vet that was going to euthanize her and we had to pay the fee and they was going to let us bury her on our property.” Thankfully for Dani and her care takers, the Great Mother was watching over the little doe.
The day that the officers were scheduled to come to murder Dani, the gate to her pen was left open and Dani escaped. Jeff and Jennifer state that they did not leave the pen open but believe that someone else who knew what was going to be done to Dani did. I can tell you personally that if I lived in their area and knew what would happen to Dani that I would have opened that pen and released her myself in order to save her life.
Deer are often on the couples property and Jennifer has said that "of I'm out there and the others run quick, there's one that won't.” She went on to say "In my heart, I know it's her. But I'm happy that it's her and I'm happy she's with the other deer and that's getting to live her life.” However, the couple still faces charges for the crime of helping a little fawn that would have died without their assistance.
Jennifer has said "I'd rather go to trial. I feel like I'm gonna stand up for what I know is right.” Jeff added "it's a complete waste of taxpayer's money. What they should have done is write us a ticket." The trial is set for March 7, 2013 at 9 a.m. Although they are on the other side of the country, we here in the Pacific Northwest, who often see deer and their young, understand why the couple helped the young fawn. What we don’t understand is why the DNR would deny them and make hero’s into criminals.
From here we can light candles in their honor, praise them for being the animal heroes that they are, send our thanks to the Goddess for setting the little doe free before she was murdered by a government organization that should have been helping them and not hurting them, and to use our power of prayer to the gods (no matter what your religion) to help ensure the charges against the couple are dropped. We, as Pagans believe in protecting our earth and all of the creatures that live on her. From Puget Sound to Connersville, Ind. we weave our blanket of love and respect for what Jeff and Jennifer did and how they continue to fight for what they know was right. Although we can not physically stand with them, we will spread the word of their fight and of their petition their state government.
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