August 29, 2015
Although it is been reported this week that representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) are trying to remove a pet deer from a family who has cared for the animal, named Wheezer, for the past two years, the ODNR is facing strong resistance from animal advocates around the globe. Jodi Proger rescued the fawn from certain death after his mother was hit by a car and killed on an Ohio road. The baby was racing back and forth across the highway, almost getting hit by several vehicles. Ms. Proger pulled over to the side, caught the fawn, and placed him in the backseat of her truck.
Wheezer was bottle-fed by the Progers until he was able to eat food on his own. Over the past few years, Wheezer has become part of her animal family. She also has horses and other animals on the grounds of her home. She keeps him in a large dog run. There is no question on the part of ODNR nor the Ohio SPCA that Wheezer is very well taken care of. This is not a question of animal abuse at all. This is a question as to whether or not a private citizen should be allowed to keep a deer as a pet.
And according to the laws of the State of Ohio, as well as this ODNR publication, as long as the Progers erect the required enclosure, and acquire the necessary state license, they are well within their rights to keep the animal. Ms. Proger assures this Examiner that they have both the funds and the land with which to keep the animal healthy and happy. They are more than happy to have Wheezer neutered, should that be a concern of the ODNR and/or the SPCA.
Ms. Proger states that, “the Ohio SPCA is working with me to try and save Wheezer. It is the ODNR who is the organization trying to remove the animal. When she inquired as to what they would do with Wheezer, should he be removed from his home, she was told that he would be killed. Initially, the ODNR visited Proger’s home after receiving a complaint that she was housing a wild animal without a permit, which is against the law. It was not one of the neighbors who raised the complaint.
There is already a precedent set regarding Ohio residents being allowed to keep deer as pets. Though it is a highly unusual situation, and one that should not be taken lightly, since wild animals should be kept in the wild, if at all possible, in 2013, a Knox County, Ohio. woman was allowed by the state to keep her pet deer.
This petition, posted on August 27, already has more than 9,200 signatures from people all over the globe. The petition was posted by the Ohio SPCA, which should indicate that there are officials in that state who are in favor of allowing the Progers to keep Wheezer. The family is thrilled that this small story has reached global proportions; they never expected anything like this, nor did they seek it out. They are not looking for any donations. Ms. Proger has reported that a fake funding site has been set up by someone who stole her information, her photos and her story, but wants to assure friends of Wheezer that they are not collecting any money for this cause, so please do not contribute to this fallacious funding site.
Should you want to contact Governor John Kasich, regarding this situation, the numbers are 614-466-3555; the Governor’s hot line is 614 544 4357. The ODNR phone number is 614-265-6565.