Charges against deer-rescuing couple to be dropped

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By early next week, charges are likely to be dropped against a couple that nursed a deer back to health.  In an exclusive interview with Fox59, the prosecutor said he is just waiting for a formal request from the Department of Natural Resources.

Emotions took over when Jennifer Counceller heard the news.

“I had tears of joy,” said Jennifer Counceller.  “I was crying, I was speechless.  I was overwhelmed.”

The Councellers took in “Dani” the deer just about two years ago.  The fawn was in bad shape after it was attacked by a coyote.  The couple nursed the animal back to health, but found out they could go to jail for taking it out of captivity.

“We definitely did not go out looking for a pet deer that night, I think fate brought us to her,” said Jennifer Counceller.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that it plans to drop the charges against the couple.  The Councellers said that decision validates their actions.

“The thing that has helped us the most is all of the outpouring of support we have had,”  said Jeff Counceller.  “We have thousands of new friends out there who have supported us through the whole thing and that has kept us going.”

The fight to free the Councellers took on a global following.  A Facebook page dedicated to get charges dropped eclipsed 40,000 signatures.  On Twitter, the hashtag #BambiGate gained major traction.

In an exclusive interview with the prosecutor handling the case, Doug Brown said the DNR has to file a formal written request before anything can happen.

“We will give the DNR’s statement on why the charges should be dismissed the same weight that we gave when they felt that the case should have been prosecuted,” said Brown.  “That is great weight.  Yes, it will likely be dismissed.”

Brown said after clearing the Councellers of wrong-doing, it may be time to take a closer look at Indiana law.

“It is ironic that some in the legislature, maybe even the governor are critical of that and they can fix that in this long session,” said Brown.

Even with all the drama it caused, the couple said they would not have done it any differently.

“I would do it again,” said Jennifer Counceller.  “I could never turn my back on a wounded animal.  I have no regrets.”


    • Dan

      And you too would have been breaking the law… The issue at hand here is not so much that they rescued and made an untrained attempt at rehabbing this deer, the issue is that they then penned this wild animal up in their back yard and kept it as a pet for TWO YEARS….even AFTER being denied a license to keep it….they knowingly broke the law.

  • Carol

    Well then, I too would have breaking the law. You would have to be heartless not to help her! The law needs to be changed.

    • jackie stover

      i agree w/u 100%!!!! save all the wounded!!! animals… people…plants….LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! people should not be so quick to disregard LIFE of any kind. If the deer had been left in the wild it surely would have died… GOD BLESS YOU "BOTH" for saving that helpless baby!!!!! the world needs more people like you!!!!!!

    • Julia

      I've helped animals before, but I've also taken them to wild life places so that they can set them free. And not keep them for 2 years when they should be in the wild.

  • sheryl

    I myself have saved a baby squirrel and lots of baby birds and some that did'nt make it.Alot of time put into it when others would just walk by without a even a thought.Those are the ones who will run over your dog,cat,squirrels ect. without stepping on the brake.

    • Jennifer

      But the question Sheryl, is, did you KEEP those animals for TWO years without any intention of releasing them back into the wild??????

      • dramamama

        They kept the deer two years to ensure she was big enough and not small and helpless to where she would fall prey to predators. If you knew the whole story maybe it would be better. They also tapered their contact with her so she would be used to little or no human contact preparing her to be released. They called several refuges and even asked for a rescue permit and both of those were denied.

      • Scorpio

        Gee wonder what you have to do to submit a comment on this sheet if you don't agree with someone's insensitive remarks towards animals and their right to live?

  • Upset

    Must be nice to break the law and say i would do it again. Wow!! Maybe i should of been or nurse or even better a cop, i work in a factory, they would lock me up and throw away the key. Must be nice!!!! Dont think it should of went as far as it did but something should of been done for BREAKIN THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jennifer

      I'm a nurse, AND a wildlife rehabilitator for the state! I would NEVER dream of breaking the law in this manner! He should lose his job on principle! If I made too much money to get help from welfare, but not enough to buy formula for my newborn, and I shoplifted formula, do you think he would arrest me??? DAMNED STRAIGHT! But because he was a law enforcement officer, and knowingly broke the law, he wants us to give him a break! He should lose his job!

  • Jeff Shelton

    Finally common sense yes it was technically illegal but intent should be considered. Zero tolerance is not the way to uphold the law sometimes authourity's need to actually do their job and investigate a situation

    • Jennifer

      It wasn't ZERO tolerance… they weren't rehabbing this deer… they were keeping it in a 10 foot enclosure for two years.. no intent to release, just keep it as a pet!

  • Mary

    I am sorry but this is not right you charges someone that will happy a animals that tells use all these two got a big Heart , if I fine it I maybe try to help it mystify called someone to see what I could do for it ,

  • jackie stover

    Sometimes laws are meant to be broken…. IF you are saving a LIFE of any kind, DO IT!!! I wish that there were more people like you in the world, then it would be about saving lives– NOT taking lives, about love– not hate! Let people do right– NOT wrong…Even IF it means you have to brake "The Law". I personally , Thank-You for helping the helpless!!!! GOD BLESS YOU BOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂

    • Julia

      Saving a life is one thing, but keeping a wild animal penned up in a cage is a totally different thing. Yeah save the animals life, but don't keep the poor animal in a cage for 2 years

    • Guest

      I think you have some life style habits that are detrimental to society. I'm going to do the right thing for society and murder you. Sometimes laws are just meant to be broken, like you said. I'm doing it for the love of society. You think if I made a fb page and sobbed my story, I could get off? I'm only helping the helpless.

  • Missy

    It wasn't caged up stupid a******* read the story all the way!!!! dumb a**** they lived on a 17 arcre farm!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thats not pinning the deer in their backyard really!!!!!!!!!! some people a cant even read or understand what they read. Go back to school. An some of you are sooooo harsh to judge your acting like he commited murder for gosh sakes I mean really all they did was save a deer omgoodness really people get a life. Like your sooo perfect an never did anything in your life. You people are a bunch of hypocrites an very judging I mean really. You guys act like he should loose his job becase him an his wife saved a deer. ReallY!!!!!! Look at your life first then maybe you can have a opinon. I would save them all if I could, at least I admit it an you guys can't. Have of you would do the same!!!! DAM HYPOCRITES!!!!

  • Guest

    Exactly Missy. You don't think Officer Councellor is a hypocrite? He is supposed to uphold the law, but when he breaks it, it's ok for him to get a free out? They were in possession of a deer, there's no escaping that. So man up, go in front of the Judge (like the rest of us would have to do) and plead your case. If the Judge agrees, they're off the hook. I don't think any of the people Officer Councellor has wrote citations to were able to escape before their hearing. Way to be an example for the public and this just shows you can be a cop and get away with anything. And he does all the time because he has family in high places. Must be nice!

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