CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (CBS Cleveland) — An Indiana police officer and his wife could face jail time for nursing a deer back to health.
The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources wants to prosecute Jeff and Jennifer Counceller for taking care of an injured deer that showed up on their doorstep.
The deer the Councellers named Dani was found on their property in 2010 when the deer suffered puncture wounds most likely from a coyote attack. The Councellers began to feed Dani, and when the deer was able to walk again, Jeff Counceller built it an enclosure to keep nursing it back to health.
According to the Star, when a department official came to the Counceller’s farm last year and saw the deer, the official told the family that Dani needed to be euthanized. The day Dani was supposed to be euthanized, she escaped from her enclosure. Now the DNR want to prosecute.
“I think she had help getting out, but I don’t know anything about who or how,” Jeff Counceller told the Star. “But I can tell you the deer had probably 20 to 30 friends, human friends. She was very popular.”
The Councellers face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine on a misdemeanor charge of illegal possession of a white-tailed deer for taking care of Dani.
“Sometimes, it’s not always about the DNR laws,” Jennifer Counceller told the Star. “Sometimes it’s about common sense and what’s right in God’s eyes. And that’s what I’m going to stand for.”
A Facebook group has been started to petition the prosecutor to drop the charges. It has received over 10,000 “likes.”
“People are outraged at the DNR and that the government has nothing better to do than harass these people,” John Waudby, the man who created the Facebook page, told the Star. “Anybody in their right mind would have done the same thing.”
A legal defense fund has raised $500 so far to help pay for the Counceller’s court costs.
A pretrial hearing is set for next month.