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Injured deer suffers for half hour in apparent police policy confusion

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A badly injured deer suffered for 30 minutes after apparent policy confusion on the part of an Indy Parks Ranger.

The deer was found Tuesday afternoon along West 56th Street near Eagle Creek Park. Both its front legs were “severely broken,” according to a report written by an Indianapolis Animal Care and Control officer.

After observing the animal, the officer determined that it needed to be euthanized, but the officer only had one bottle of the tranquilizer drug Katamine and it was not enough to sedate the deer.

“Based on the fact that it’s a controlled substance, they need to extinguish the amount of Katamine they have in order to be issued additional bottles,” said Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Administrator Dan Shackle.

The nearest Animal Control officer with enough Katamine was on the east side of the city, on the other side of the South Split.

“With construction and everything, she had to come all the way around 465, which added time to her trip so she was 30 minutes away,” Shackle said.

Since Animal Control Officers don’t carry guns, he asked for help from an Indy Parks Ranger who had also responded.

“I asked the Ranger if he could put the deer down,” the officer wrote in his report. “And he strongly emphasized that the Park Rangers were no longer allowed to shoot deer since they are now under IMPD command.”

But according to IMPD, that’s not right.

“The Rangers do fall within our guidelines, our general orders, operating procedures,” said IMPD Officer Chris Wilburn.

Those guidelines say an officer can shoot an animal for his or her own safety, for the safety of others, or to end an animal’s suffering. The policy extends to Indy Parks Rangers.

Officers and Rangers do have to make a judgment call and contact their supervisor before firing their gun.

“We don’t know what the particular officer, park ranger saw,” Wilburn added. “He or she may have felt it wasn’t a safe environment to discharge a firearm.”

But the report written by the Animal Control Officer makes no mention of an unsafe environment. In fact, the officer told the ranger he could leave the scene since he would not be able to help.

About 30 minutes later, the deer with two broken legs was sedated, transported back to Animal Control headquarters and euthanized.

Calls to Indy Parks and the Indy Parks Rangers office were not returned by Wednesday afternoon.

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