Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Canada: Quebec family fights to keep its pet deer

CANADA -- A family in Quebec's Laurentians is fighting to keep a deer they took into their home four years ago after its mother was hit by a car and killed.

Agents from Quebec's Ministry of Wildlife seized the deer, whom the family named May, from the home on Monday after an anonymous complaint.

"She must be wondering where we are, because we're the only family she's ever known," Brigitte Thomas told CBC News on Wednesday, her voice choked with emotion.

Orphaned in highway accident

Thomas, who lives with her husband in Wentworth North, Que., said a friend found May by the roadside in June 2012 when she was just days old.

Her mother had been hit by a car.

The friend brought May to Thomas, knowing that she had a large forested property in the mountains.

Thomas and her husband bottle-fed May and intended on releasing her into the woods that fall.

But Thomas said there was a problem with stray dogs in the area, and they were worried about May's safety.

After a few months living with Thomas and her husband, she wasn't like other deer, Thomas said.

She was domesticated, and Thomas figured she probably wouldn't last long on her own in the wild. So they decided May could stay.

Part of the family

The family has a fenced-in property of 33 hectares, which May has been roaming for four years, frolicking on the mountain and snacking on leaves on the trees.

When she wants, May's allowed to come into the basement of the family home.

"She has a big pillow like our dogs. She watches TV with us," Thomas said.

"She's very smart, she's clean. She even waits at the door to let us know she has to go the bathroom."

Thomas and her husband never applied for a permit for May.

They didn't even know if such a permit existed.

They say they've never had a problem with May and she's never bothered anyone.

But on Monday, she received a call from the provincial ministry.

Agents told her they had received an anonymous complaint about May and that they would be coming to take her away.

It's against the law to keep wild animals as pets in Quebec.

Thomas has no idea who might have complained.

Location unknown

When the agents showed up, Thomas called May to her and petted her while they injected her with an anesthetic.

Her husband helped load May into the back of the truck, and the agents took her away.

"We have no idea where she is. No one from the ministry will tell us. That's what's the hardest," Thomas said.

Thomas phoned their local member of the provincial legislature. She was able to get assurances from the ministry that May wouldn't be euthanized, and that she will likely go to a refuge for injured animals.

Close connection

Thomas said May has already lost one mother, and she can't bear the thought of the animal going through that again.

"There's a very, very, very strong bond between us and May," Thomas said.

Thomas is asking the ministry to grant a special permit that would allow the family to keep May.

She has launched an online petition and a Facebook page for her beloved deer.

(CBC News - Nov 30, 2016)

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