You may have seen the story about Little Orphan Dani on Good Morning America yesterday morning and you may find yourself wondering if Jeff and Jennifer Counceller found the little fawn in the woods and decided to make a pet out of her. Here in the Puget Sound we often see deer near our roadways, in our parks and sometimes even in our backyards. But can you imagine having one as a pet? During Good Morning America on Jan. 29, 2013 the Counceller’s explain that Dani was not a pet and that they always had good intentions for her and for releasing her.
Jeff Counceller, a police officer in Connersville, Ind., and his wife Jennifer, a nurse, were charged with unlawful possession of a deer that they had in their possession for roughly 2 years, but did they actually do anything wrong? As this story went nation wide over the weekend it would seem that our country is saying a loud no to the question. Little Dani now has a Facebook page, a Facebook fan page, a petition and an online fundraiser to help off set the legal fees for her rescuers and thousands of followers wishing both her and her rescuers well being and sharing their joy in what the couple did for the little doe.
The story of little Dani all started with Jeff knocking on a door and finding the little injured fawn on the door step of the house. She was clearly starving and her injuries were so severe that maggots crawled in and out of her untreated wounds. He called his wife Jennifer, a nurse. The couple tried to contact wildlife rehabs and even tried to get a wildlife permit but no one was willing to help the little fawn. What else could they do? Certainly they couldn’t send her off to her slow and painful death as she was eaten alive by the maggots and who knows what else she might fall prey to.
When the couple got her home the little fawn could not even stand up. "I could feel all of the open wounds all along her back side and she wouldn't stand up,“ Jennifer said. She fed her and cleaned her wounds and after a few days the fawn started to heal and they named her Little Orphan Dani. Although some speculate that they were trying to make a pet out of her the couple insists that they were going to release her and even had a date set to do it. Their planned released was foiled by the Ind. DNR who demanded that the deer be put down just a few weeks before she was to be released.
After openly having the deer on their property for 2 years and just weeks from her release date the DNR came by and after a couple of visits they told Jeff and Jennifer that they would have to put the deer down. For 2 years they cared for and raised the doe to full adult size and had been limiting their contact with her in preparation for her release and now the DNR wanted to step in. Thankfully, on the day that the DNR was scheduled to come out to kill little Dani someone left the door to her pen open and she escaped. Jeff and Jennifer have commented that although they did not leave the door open that they believe someone else who knew what was to happen to Dani did.
Today, Little Orphan Dani is free in the woods behind the Counceller’s property. They believe that they see her from time to time but she has clearly joined a small heard in their area. Yet, the DNR is still pushing to prosecute the couple. In all reality the couple did the DNR a favor by taking in the animal, healing it, raising it to be a very healthy and hearty doe and, although it didn’t happen as they had planned, the doe was released into the wild.
Here in the Puget Sound, please remember that should you find a fawn that its mother is likely grazing near by, don’t disturb it, it doesn’t need you to take care it because that’s what its mother is doing. However, should you find a wild animal that is in need of help please contact the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for your area. Wildlife are not pets.
Don’t forget about the petition to drop the charges against the Counceller’s, Little Orphan Dani Counceller’s Facebook page, the Facebook fan page, or the fundraiser for the legal defense of the Counceller’s. The Pagan community in the Pacific Northwest stands behind you and sends you our love and support.
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