By Yvonne E. Craiger, DVM
Many, many people consider themselves animal lovers. I am one of them. I love them every day in my veterinary clinic, whether or not they love me.
To me, the best way to love an animal is to give it the best care you can with the least stress you can with a goal of helping it live as song a life without suffering, as you can.
Due to the number of different species God has blessed our earth with, this means learning lots of different things to know how to help them live a stress- and suffering-free life. What is stressful to a rabbit may not be stressful to a horse, or a snake.
Certainly, horses, rabbits, snakes, and other types of animals all need different types of food and environments. Some animals are social and live in groups, while others are solitary and groups stress them. Finally, domestic species have different needs and stressors than wild species.
Not too long ago I received a call from Dr. Andrea Connor’s office at 25 Owen Street in the city of Belleville. A deer had tried to follow some folks into her clinic. This is not normal behavior for a deer, even a young one. He had not learned to be nervous or fearful of people. Likely someone happened on him as an orphaned you deer and raised him.
PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS.
It became evident to me that morning that we had a difficult situation on our hands. While we were able to “wrangle” this deer into a truck and transport it to a wildlife rehabilitator, this deer has a long way to go. He is currently with other young deer turned over for rehabilitation.
The problems with raising a wild animal when they are young are:
1. They do not learn to fend for themselves, something that a mother or foster mother teach the young;
2. They are not as fearful of people as they should be and more commonly wander into people’s yards or even homes when they are older where they can wreak much havoc; and
3. They are more dangerous to people than their wild-raised counterparts because they may come closer to people and then if frightened end up striking, as with hooves, or biting the person.
The wild-raised ones have their instinct to stay finely tuned. In the case of deer, when their rut begins in the fall, this deer may not run from a hunter, or worse, may approach a hunter and then challenge them as they would a deer. I hope and pray that will not happen.
This little button buck, after several hours arranging his transport to a safe place overnight and more time the next day getting him to an appropriate place where he is now with deer learning to be a deer, not a pet.
He will be watched carefully. His final disposition has yet to be determined. He needs to become nervous and fearful of people. Many hours and many people helped get this deer out of the city and into the hands of the licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
Thanks to Pete LaFramboise of Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue for providing “wrangling skill” and transportation, to Mark Rosenthal of Animal Magic for providing his rescue and “wrangling” experience, to Dr. Conners and her team for making me aware of the situation, and to Mary Anthois and her team from Loving Arms Rescue Ranch for providing food and help keeping the deer contained until we could load him up.
For all you animal lovers out there, if you find an orphaned animal that is wild, please do the following:
1. DO NOT take this animal into your home. This is for the safety of you and your family. Most people are not aware of the diseases and parasites they could contract just from handling wildlife.
2. Contact the DNR via the computer website to find a License Rehabilitator for the species you have encountered. (http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/) Contact them and follow their directions.
3. If you cannot do this, contact your veterinarian for assistance.
4. If you do not have a veterinarian, contact me, Yvonne Craiger at Sumpter Pet Care, PLLC (734) 697-4700.
To own or attempt to own and raise wildlife in Michigan, without a DNR Rehabilitation License (and appropriate training) is a crime. Do not put yourself in the position of receiving fines or even being incarcerated for following your heart.
Go one step further. If you find an animal you are sure needs rescue, follow the correct channels and get it into the hands of a licensed expert in keeping with the law. This will be best for that animal and give it the best chance of living out its normal life in the wild. It is the best way to keep you, your family, and this animal safe.
Be smart. Be safe.
By Yvonne E. Craiger, DVM