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…


Woman Saves Orphaned Baby Deer and Now the State Wants to Kill Him

Here’s a heartwarming story about a woman who rescues an orphaned deer…but it may not have a happy ending. Although that can change, and it may. Here’s the complete story as I read it on the Dodo’s September 26th newsletter:

“A woman dedicated two years of her life to saving an orphaned deer — and now she’s trying to stop the state from killing him.

Back in 2013, Jodi Proger was driving down the highway when someone a few cars in front of her crashed into a mother deer. The deer died, and her days-old fawn was circling her body in a panic.

“He was running back and forth, back and forth,” Proger told The Dodo.

“I wasn’t gonna do it but I did it,” she said. And so she ran back, scooped the frightened little deer up, and took him home with her.

Proger, who lives on a 5-acre farm with her husband and horses, said there aren’t any deer sanctuaries in Ohio, so she knew she was his only chance. She raised the little fawn, whom she named Wheezer, on her own, feeding him every few hours for the first months of his life.

He likes to sleep indoors with the family, so around 10 p.m. every night he comes inside to get ready for bed. “He’ll climb up on the loveseat and he’ll watch a little TV and he’ll crash on the loveseat,” Proger said.

And Wheezer has bonded with the other family members as well. “Him and the dog will lie on the floor with each other,” Proger said. “He loves the cats — he licks them to death.”

“We’ve had him a little over two years with no problems, no complaints from any of our neighbors, nothing,” she added.

Sure enough, officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) showed up shortly after to tell Proger that she was violating the law by keeping Wheezer.

Their solution? Killing him.

Proger begged them to return to the office and pretend they saw nothing, but they refused. However, they left after an hour without taking the deer.

“Ohio has no sanctuaries whatsoever,” Proger said about the state’s handling of wildlife. “Their only thing is to come in, take them and kill them.”

“No one ever told me it was illegal to have a deer,” she added. “No one!”

She reached out to Ohio state senator Lou Gentile (D-30), who helped stall the ODNR. “He got the kill order off of Wheezer’s head, but they’re still debating what to do with me and Wheezer,” she said.

“I am just so amazed and so much in awe of the support I have received,” Proger said. “I am so, so grateful.”

“He’s very loving,” she said.

If you’d like to help, you can sign an Ohio SPCA petition asking Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other state officials to spare Wheezer’s life. You can also contact the governor’s office here.”

(end of Dodo story)

What a story it is!! I hope the committee that is working on this issue will grant Jodi Proger an exemption. I did sign the petition. Please do too if you are so inclined. At least that might spare his life.

He seems to be thriving in this homey situation, don’t you think? It’s not ideal for a wild animal–and I definitely don’t like the idea of the tether– after all, he should be able to run and jump. But it’s all this deer knows at this point. And he seems quite happy! Maybe they can find a deer sanctuary in another state that will take him since Ohio doesn’t have one. That would probably be ideal. Although I must say, he certainly seems to have a good life right now…

What do you think?