Connersville couple fights charges after nursing injured deer back to health

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A couple from Connersville, Ind. is fighting misdemeanor charges against them after they took care of an injured fawn.

Jeff Counceller, a police officer, and his wife, Jennifer, said they found the deer on a front porch in 2010.  They said the fawn, who they later named Dani, had puncture wounds due to being infested by maggots.

The couple brought the deer back to their 17-acre farm, despite the Department of Natural Resources’ request for the couple to return the deer back into the wild.  However, the couple continued to care for the fawn and was charged in early January with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer.

The couple said returning the deer into the wild before it was healthy would have killed it.  The Councellers also stated they did not know it was illegal to keep the deer.  The couple applied for a rescue permit, but it was denied.

Dani disappeared last summer on the day DNR officials planned to euthanize it.

A Facebook page called “Drop Charges Against Connersville Police Officer” was created in support of the couple.  The page had more than 29,000 likes by Wednesday afternoon.

The news even reached Gov. Mike Pence, who stated it appears DNR acted in accordance with Indiana law.

“As most of you are aware, Indiana law prohibits the possession of wild animals, and the DNR is tasked under the law by the General Assembly to enforce those measures,” said Gov. Pence.

The governor said he looking into the matter.

“We all admire compassion for an injured animal,” said Gov. Pence. “Hoosiers cherish our animals whether they’re our pets, our livestock or whether they’re wild animals.  But this is a state of laws and as governor of the State of Indiana, my focus is going to be to make sure that our laws are fairly and impartially enforced.”

Photo Courtesy: Facebook support page


  • Kenneth

    The DNR are nothings that go around and prevent you from doing things, yet do themselves. Poaching, illegal fishing, etc.. I say the DNR should be quiet this time.

    • I pay attention

      The Cops are nothings that go around and prevent you from doing things, yet do themselves. Stealing, illegal killing, etc.. I say the cops should follow the law this time

  • Samantha C.

    they saved an animal how is that even wrong!? i mean are you telling me that now we cant save innocent animals because of some law….thats just wrong! I think its amazing they saved it! dont punish them for a good deed

    • I pay attention

      There are lots of things that are moral but illegal for citizens to do, and there are lots of things that are immoral that cops do everyday.

    • "Thor"

      Products of big government and the nanny state, all liberals should be proud.
      Liberals are anything but liberal.
      ->If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy guns.
      ->If a liberal doesn't like guns, he doesn't want anyone to be able to buy guns.

      • Jen

        Right….. Just like, if a liberal doesn't approve of abortion, she doesn't have an abortion, but if a conservative doesn't approve of abortion, he doesn't want anyone to have an abortion.

        Thor, it goes both ways, regardless of political stance. There's no reason to blame it on a political ideology.

      • "Thor"

        It's only the liberals trying to take guns and as far as abortion goes MOST of the nation is against it, there you go.

      • lacook

        Don't lump all liberal's together. I'm about as liberal as you can get,and i own guns, will always own them. Legal or not.

  • Alex

    Your telling me to get a hunting license, after finding a dying deer on a porch, shoot the deer and call it a day? This is the same thing as someone not having insurance and get in a crash then go to the hospital just to get denied care?

  • Steve

    Good to see our new govenor will go by the letter of the law and not let a little common sense enter our government. sigh…………………

  • Hunter

    And if that dear bit a kid and the kid died from injury of a wild animal, what would we say. Not saying the man did wrong, but sometimes laws are for the good as a whole. Now hopefully this disapperas quietly, and the media looks for the next story to make bigger than life. I say, cook Bambi up for Superbowl chili

  • Brenday

    just another example of Government gone wild. Pence is a wimp,I only hope that voters remember that he told us we are stupid and backed the DNRs idiotically.

  • Someone who cares

    Mankind has come so far, with pc's/ mp3/ Iphone…….it's just a shame to see how far away from
    humanity we really have gotten. Too save an innocent life…. come on EMT's DOC. do it everyday!!!

    This isn't about, what cops do. Look at the big picture of that innocent fawn. GOD BLESS !!

  • Rob

    Unfortunately DNR laws have little to no common sense when it comes to humanity. Heaven forbid if someone saves a newborn fawn!! Shame on the Department of Natural Resources and the Officer who is pushing for it!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rla

    they kept the deer penned for 2 years, this is a cop who is supposed to know the Indiana code.
    he had pleanty of time to find a legal home or release the deer.

    This is not an obscure law about drain water rights. It is one of the first laws in the wildlife section.

    This is a crooked cop and he needs to lose his badge.

  • naw

    Um, yeah, let's take up space in the already crowded jails with people who meant well and instead let the drug dealers, etc. run free. Makes perfect sense!

  • Rockstar

    I would not take a plea deal and take this all the way to a jury trial if I was them. I do not believe any jury would convict based on the information being reported.

  • Guest

    I think it's nutts that a mother can leave her child alone in a hotel over night and get nothing but these poor people face jail time over helping an animal. What is going on with the justice system???

  • Jeff

    Punished for doing a good deed, you were going to kill it!!! Just another thing to add to the list of things that are testing my faith in humanity. Move on Indiana, worry more about the 2 legged animals running wild!!

  • Johnny

    After seeing our new Governor on the news, OMG what is our state infor over the next 4 years!!! DNR must have him scared also!!! Little need to mention "DNR plays by their own rules and most DNR Officers believe they are well above the law and can do what they want at will with no repercussions!!!! Maybe they need to investigate their own!! As a avid hunter and fisherman here in Indiana, I personally know a few DNR Officers and unfortunately that is the demeaner that most officers now share when they approach people.

  • Betty

    It wil be interesting to see how Pence deal. Will he be the typical bureaucrat and hail the DNR or will he do what is right?

  • Tracy

    The Governor has already said that it appears that the DNR did the correct thing! The officer that kept this deer for two years knows the law. He inforces the law so why does he think he is above the law?? He is NOT! This deer will not be ok! It does not know it IS a deer. Animals have to be raised with others of it's kind. They have to be kept away from people not played with and petted on. This deer has probably died from this officer and his wifes actions. People are fighting for the wrong side. The DNR has laws to protect people from their own ignorance. Wild animals carry many illness. Illness that children, pets and adults can get very sick and or die from. Support your local DNR!!

  • tammy

    This is just crazy … all them people wanted to do was save a baby deer … I say Thank -You to them and I want them to know I WOULD OF DONE THE SAME THING !!!!! What the world needs to worry about are all the killings and drug … Leave the people alone trying to do a good thing for nature.

  • Lisa

    There are such awful crimes in the world today…. The thought that the courts/officers would waste time on this matter disturbs me….

  • Chuck

    This is insane. The officer saved the fawn and now the state wants to destroy it because it might be 'dangerous"?
    What is wrong with the DNR.use some common sense..please. Not all laws fit all situations.

  • Bob hite Quail

    If it was so injured why not take it to a vet or wild life rehabilitator. The laws is to protect a baby deer from being taken from the wild, from its mother and raised as a pet. Also they could have contacted DNR to begin with and got a permit to have it. That is what all the other people who raise deer do.

  • Dan

    Saving the Baby deer was all well and good…but then THEY KEPT IT FOR TWO YEARS!!!!! they kept it as a pet well after they "rehabilitated" it. Lets look at both sides here people.

  • Aliza Lewis

    Baby deer to consider. Its care has been good taken by the family. It had been seen with several wounds and now this has been a consideration in the family to get a cure for the little child. What was then was the law regarding this and protection of the baby with accordance that any wild animals can not be kept in the house without prior permission.

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