Update on Wheezer the Deer: Possible Change in the Law?

I was searching online for updates and information on Wheezer the deer, the subject of my previous blog post. I just read a report from Harrison Hove of NBC affiliate WCMH in Columbus, OH.

This case is getting a lot of attention, as it should. There may be a change in the law because of it. Here’s what WCMH reported:

“BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — The fate of Wheezer the deer remains unresolved as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources continues its investigation and contemplates removing a beloved deer from an eastern Ohio family’s care.

Jodi Proger rescued Wheezer after his mother was hit by a car two years ago. She bottle-fed Wheezer when he was a fawn. Now he eats berries from her hands.

photo by Jodi Proger

photo by Jodi Proger

“He views me as his mother and he is my baby and that is how I feel about it,” she said.

A state corrections officer spotted Wheezer in the Progers’ backyard while overseeing prisoner clean-up detail and filed a formal complaint with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. ODNR officers tried to remove Wheezer from the Proger home last week, but the family refused to give him up.

“What I don’t understand is why they want to take them from me and put him someplace else when I am the one who has been taking care of him all this time,” a tearful Jodi told NBC4. “I just don’t understand this.”

The Ohio SPCA is supporting the Progers in their efforts to keep Wheezer. Executive Director Teresa Landon called the situation “absolutely unnecessary.”

“This is a lot of stress for this family,” she said. “He’s very bonded to Jodi and her husband. They are taking very good care of him. To remove him from that home and needlessly kill him just absolutely makes no sense.”

Wheezer on his loveseat in the family living room. Photo by Jodi Proger

Wheezer on his loveseat in the family living room. Photo by Jodi Proger

Landon says Ohio used to be able to rescue and care for wild deer before 2009.  However, the law changed that year due to fears about Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal disease impacting deer populations in many states. The first case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Ohio did not occur until 2014. Captive deer, imported from Pennsylvania, tested positive for CWD on a contained hunting preserve in Holmes County.

“We do not feel there is a legitimate fear of Chronic Wasting Disease for the Ohio Division of Wildlife to require orphaned and injured fawns to be automatically killed,” she said.

Landon says plenty of healthy deer have been killed when good samaritans turn them over to wildlife authorities.

“It has happened over and over again, that people have found an orphaned fawn,” she said. “They’ve called a game warden out and the animal has been destroyed. It’s actually needless killing.”

Ohio Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl has introduced Trooper’s Law (H.B. 267). This law would make it legal once again for good Samaritans to obtain permits and care for injured fawns.  Ruhl issued a statement to NBC4 that says in part, “There are a lot of animal lovers across the state who, with proper education and under the supervision of trained veterinarians, want to administer care and compassion to these injured fawns. Under current law, they are unable to do that, which is why we believe these changes are necessary.”

Right now, Trooper’s Law is awaiting a committee assignment. The ODNR tells NBC4 there is no timetable for a decision about Wheezer’s fate.”

(end of WCMH story)

photo by Jodi Proger

photo by Jodi Proger

To watch the news report video, click here.

I’ll keep you all posted as this story unfolds…

 

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11 thoughts on “Update on Wheezer the Deer: Possible Change in the Law?

    • Yeah, he’s just minding his own business and enjoying being in the special world they have created for him. I hope their hearts will lead in the decision.

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  1. Thanks for the update, Michele! No baby should be ripped from its mother’s arms. Jodi is the only mother Wheezer has known for the last two years. He is isolated from the deer population and is being given food, water, shelter and love. What’s the problem? Maybe the legislation will get tied up in committee for the next 10 years and by the time they decide his fate Wheezer will have died of old age.

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    • You’re right Shady. Jodi is definitely this sweet angel’s surrogate mother and he should stay right where he is. I have a feeling, with the amount of attention this case is getting, and the outpouring of support the Progers are receiving, that this will have a happy ending. Let’s hope so! I’m glad the media is covering it like they are. One thing for sure: they won’t go down without a fight…

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    • Indeed! I think it would be so neat to have a deer for a pet…if it happened just as this happened, where he was a part of the family since he was very young. They’re so gentle.

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  2. Aww…I hope this ends well! When I lived in the city, we had laws about the pets people could have. I think it was dogs, cats, and various forms of rat creatures (gerbils, hamsters, etc.). But nothing else. Now that we’re in the country(ish) we have deer in our back yard all the time. You can’t control them. I suppose someone could complain if we had one as a pet? But it’s FAR better to have one staying in your back yard than running free, where it could run out in the road and be hit by a car.

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    • Yes, so many deer get hit by cars. They just dart right out in front of the cars…and usually it’s at dusk or dawn when visibility is low. Poor babies. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie!

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