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Couple Faces Jail Time For Helping Fawn
Updated May 5, 2013 12:12 AM
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(CONNERSVILLE) - A central Indiana couple faces criminal charges tonight for trying to save an injured deer.

Emily Longnecker, of WTHR reports, Counceller has spent his 14 year career as a police officer, locking up the bad guys.

The Councellers though, have found themselves on the other side of the law recently. The couple may face 60 days behind bars.

The reason comes down to a little deer Jeff rescued two years ago, after he found it injured on a porch during a police call.

Jeff was going to put the little deer back in the woods but found it was injured, so he called his wife Jennifer, who is a nurse to see if she could help.

"We called her little orphan Dani. She's definitely changed our lives," she added.

The couple nursed Dani back to health, even bottle feeding her, but she was to little to release and survive.

At one point, the Councellers said they called several deer habitats across the state to see if one of them could take Dani. The couple said they were told that they were too full at that point.

So the Councellers built a pen for Dani in their backyard, right near the woods, until the deer could grow bigger and stronger.

The couple planed to turn the deer lose when she was older and didn't hide the fact they were treating her.

Last summer, the Councellers said they were getting ready to let Dani go, but were waiting for the corn crops to mature so she would have something to eat when they released her.

Last July though, the Councellers said they got a visit from an officer with the Department of Natural Resources.

Who informed the couple they needed to get a rescue permit.

Jennifer said when she called the DNR's state office, she was turned down, saying it was illegal to have a deer.

According to the Councellers, DNR officers told them they would have to put Dani down because she had been around humans too long because Dani was a threat to society.

Officials were first going to shoot Dani, but then they found a vet to euthanize her and the couple would have to pay the fee and then they could bury the doe on their property.

The day officers were supposed to come and euthanize Dani though, someone left the gate to her pen open and Dani escaped.

The Councellers said they did not open the pen that day, but believe someone who knew what was going to happen to Dani, did.

The affidavit of probable cause charge the couple with harboring a wild animal said that DNR officers questioned Jennifer's father about Dani getting loose. He was never charged though.

The Counsellers can't be sure what had become of Dani. They think she might be one of the many deer who come around their property from time to time.

While Dani, the deer may be free, a jury must decide if the Councellers share the same fate.

A special prosecutor from Decatur County has been called in to prosecute the case, along with a special judge from Union County.

The Councellers said they believe that's to avoid a conflict of interest because Jeff is a Connersville police officer and Jennifer works part time as a jail nurse in Fayette County.

The Councellers says they had no criminal intent, they didn't poach the deer or kill it without a tag, and didn't plan on keeping her as a pet.

The Councellers said they just wanted to give the deer a fighting chance.

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