Indiana couple facing jail for saving baby deer

Reuters/Bogdan Cristel BC/JV
Reuters/Bogdan Cristel BC/JV
Reuters/Bogdan Cristel BC/JV

An Indiana couple has been charged with a misdemeanor and is facing up to two months in jail for rescuing an injured baby deer and nursing it back to health in their home.

Connersville, Ind. Police Officer Jeff and his wife, Jennifer Counceller, were in possession of a white-tailed deer that they found as an injured fawn on someone’s porch three years ago. The animal had maggot-infested puncture wounds that the couple worried would be life-threatening. Anxious that the baby deer would not survive on its own, the couple brought it to their Indiana farm and nursed it back to health, not knowing that their good deed could land them in jail.

“I could feel all of the open wounds all along her back side and she wouldn’t stand up,” Jennifer Counceller told ABC News.

Naming the deer “Little Orphan Dani”, the couple spent more than a year nursing her into adulthood and “getting to the point where she was able to go out on her own,” Counceller said. But when an Indiana Conservation Officer made an appearance at their home and discovered the deer this past summer, the couple was informed that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources planned to euthanize it, claiming Dani could pose a danger to people and that keeping the animal was against the law.

“I was devastated,” Counceller said. While nursing the deer to health, the woman eventually realized that she needed a permit to keep the animal, but didn’t contact officials because she feared they would euthanize it at the sight of its injuries.

When conservation officials returned to the Councellers’ home to put down the animal, Dani was nowhere to be found and the couple claimed the deer escaped from their backyard that same day.

To the knowledge of state officials, the deer never returned and could be living in the wild now – but the Councellers continue to face legal problems. Even though the deer escaped, the couple was charged with a misdemeanor and faces up to 60 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Their trial will be held on March 7 in Fayette County, but the Councellers say they have no regrets.

“No matter what the law is, we did what was right for the animal,” Jennifer Counceller told ABC.

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