May
Photo by Brigitte Thomas

Quebec couple’s pet deer seized after more than four years

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Quebec’s Ministry of Wildlife recently seized a deer from a family who had been caring for the animal for more than four years.

Brigitte Thomas and her husband received a call from the ministry on Monday. When the agents arrived at their home later that day, Thomas called her pet deer to the door, where they injected the animal with an anaesthetic. Her husband then helped the agents load the deer into a truck, and they haven’t seen her since.

According to reports, the ministry was tipped off by an anonymous source, though Thomas told CBC News that she has no idea who would have complained, especially after all this time.

The deer had been living with Thomas and her husband on their large, forested property in Wentworth North, Quebec, since June 2012. She was brought to them by a friend, who found the days-old fawn by the side of the road, where her mother had been hit by a car.

Photo by Brigitte Thomas

Thomas and her husband bottle-fed the deer with the intention of releasing her into the woods that fall. But when the time came, Thomas told CBC that there was a problem with stray dogs in the area, and they were worried for her safety. Knowing she wouldn’t last long on her own, Thomas and her husband decided to keep the deer and name her May. 

May spent much of the past four years on Thomas’ 33 hectares of fenced-in property. When she wasn’t busy frolicking in the mountains or snacking on tree leaves, she was relaxing in the basement with Thomas and her husband. She had her own big pillow, just like the dogs, and would spend time watching TV with the whole family. When she had to go to the bathroom, Thomas says she’d wait at the door for them.

Photo by Brigitte Thomas

Now, Thomas and her husband are left wondering what’s happened to her. When Thomas phoned their local member of provincial legislature, she was assured that May wouldn’t be euthanized, but that’s all they would tell her. 

“We have no idea where she is,” she said. “No one from the ministry will tell us. That’s what’s the hardest.”

Thomas said it’s also tough when she considers the fact that May already lost one mother. She’s now hoping that the ministry will grant them a special permit to keep her. In the meantime, she’s created a Facebook page dedicated to May, where she launched an online petition in an effort to get her back.

In response to public outcry concerning the seizure, the Quebec Wildlife Ministry took to Facebook. “We would like to reassure you the deer in question is in perfect health and is currently in a shelter for animals,” the ministry said. “She won’t be euthanized, and the ministry will ensure her well-being.”

The post also explained that domesticating wild animals has significant consequences on their behaviour, and all deer that are found injured or orphaned should be turned over to the ministry to prevent the spread of disease.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry also makes it clear that, for the sake of both public health and the health of wildlife, orphaned or injured wildlife should never be domesticated. To learn more about how to help any animal that appears to be in trouble, visit the ministry’s website.

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