INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - A couple who rescued an injured fawn they named “Dani” and nursed it back to health should not be charged with a crime, a state agency said on Friday, reversing its stance after thousands of people expressed outrage on social media.
Jeff and Jennifer Counceller faced misdemeanor charges and possible jail time for illegally possessing a wild animal after they brought the injured fawn to their Connersville, Indiana, home more than two years ago. They said they planned to nurse her back to health and release her.
When the Indiana Department of Natural Resources sent an officer to their property last summer to kill Dani under department rules, she was gone from her pen. The state discourages residents raising wild animals because of the threat of disease spreading.
The Councellers have said they do not know who left the gate open, but it was not them. Dani has been in the wild since then.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence got involved in the case after 60,000 people demanded on social media that the charges against the couple be dropped.
A legal defense fund received more than $2,100 in pledges (here) and the couple made an appearance on "Good Morning America."
“The Department of Natural Resources today will ask that the charges be dismissed,” a spokesman said, after the agency reviewed the matter at the request of the governor. The final decision on the case will be made by a local prosecutor.
“At the end of the day, the deer survived and that’s all that matters,” Jeff Counceller, who is a Connersville police officer, said earlier this week. “She’s getting to live a hopefully long life and that’s all that matters.”
Editing by David Bailey, Greg McCune and Sandra Maler