People are Calling for Animal Cruelty Charges after Game Warden Shoots “Pet Deer”

The residence of a Tuscumbia, Alabama neighborhood are irate after a game warden killed a tame whitetail deer. People of the neighborhood took to social media to voice their outrage and are calling for the game warden to be fired and charged with animal cruelty.

I read multiple social media posts about this incident and also reached out to Alabama Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries Department to get the complete story of what happened. Here are the basic facts of the case, along with comments from residence, and followed up by an explanation from the wildlife agency.

Basic Facts

According to multiple Facebook posts, a doe named Dixie had been living in the Cedar Hills Community of Tuscumbia, Alabama for the past few years. Where she has become the neighborhood pet.

The deer came to the community as a “rescued” fawn and lived in one of the neighborhoods back yards. She eventually outgrew that enclosure and has been living in a patch of woods in the neighborhood. Everyone says she was super friendly and would let anyone come up and pet her and eat out of your hand.

This year she gave birth to twins, who were not as tame as Dixie but still very visible in the neighborhood. Up until this point, a Dixie has shown no signs of aggression, but a lady seemingly got to close to the fawns and was attacked on two separate occasions.

The lady suffered minor injuries that required a trip to the hospital. Deputies responded to the scene and they notified the game warden. Game Warden Jarrod Poole showed up at the neighborhood and lured Dixie to him by pretending to have food. He then pulled his gun and according to witnesses shot her “point-blank.” Now people are angry and calling for Officer Poole to be fired and charged with animal cruelty.

Comments From the Residents

A Facebook posts from Melanie Taylor Hellums

I can barely see to write this post through my tears. This precious animal that was brought to our neighborhood as a fawn was shot point-blank by the Alabama Game Warden Jarrod Poole. Her name is Dixie. She outgrew the backyard she was living in and her owner moved away. She started to live in the woods in our neighborhood. We all grew to love her. Our neighborhood fed her, took pictures of her as she grew, and when she had two fawns of her own over a year ago. These two fawns are not as tame as her but we do see them frequently in our yards. Dixie jumped on a lady in our neighborhood as she went to get the mail and she had minor injuries. This neighbor did not call the authorities and did not want Dixie killed. My next-door neighbor’s daughter took it upon herself to call authorities (even though she does not live here). Dixie trusted humans. This led her to her death. The game warden made her think he was going to feed her and executed her point-blank. The game warden and police knew she was a pet, that she was friendly and that she has a new set of twin fawns. The new fawns are the reason Dixie was acting out in protective mode. The police took pictures with Dixie before the game warden shot her. What an amazing gift our neighborhood had with Dixie! I had to explain to my children that the game warden that is supposed to conserve wildlife acted in such a malicious act of violence. Please help me write letters to Alabama Game and Fish Division 64 North Union Street Montgomery, AL, and let’s encourage them to take immediate action.

I can barely see to write this post through my tears. This precious animal that was brought to our neighborhood as a…

Posted by Melanie Taylor Hellums on Sunday, August 2, 2020

In another Facebook Post by Carl Overton. He states that many people want felony animal cruelty charges

The Community members are highly upset that this Game Warden violated their trust that he was there to help, not kill Dixie.

They trying to find the two baby deer to keep them from starving to death. Some stated, they wanted the Game Warden arrested and charged with Aggravated Animal Cruelty, which is a felony.

Explanation from the Wildlife Department

I reached out to the Alabama Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries Department and they shed some light on what happened and released the following point by point statement.

First they addressed the calls for animal abuse charges against the officer

We fully support the actions that Officer Poole took in order to remove a dangerous wild animal from the Cedar Hills subdivision.

Officer Poole followed the steps that are expected of any Officer in a situation like this.

Officer Poole will not be reprimanded. There is no investigation into Officer Poole for the way he handled the dangerous deer. This is cut and dry.

Then they expand on what actually happened during the attack

On July 30 a woman was attacked by the deer. On July 31 the woman was attacked again (within her garage) – causing injury. She was attended to by ambulance service personnel and taken to the hospital in a private vehicle.

The deer initiated a third attack and had to be physically prevented from making contact with the woman again by a Deputy on the scene.

Poole arrived after these attacks and euthanized the deer – preventing future attacks that would have potentially resulted in further injuries or worse.

Next they explain why people should not keep wild deer as pets

Tame / imprinted deer are dangerous.

Attacking humans in defense of fawns is not normal behavior for a doe. Attacking humans is a consequence of the deer being tamed, hand-fed, and invited into the homes of community residents.

We have had more than one fatality in Alabama as a result of pet deer. The most recent fatality was in 2003. (You can view the story HERE)

More recent serious injuries include permanent blindness in the right eye in 2013. (You can view that story HERE)

Finally they explain who is to blame for the deer’s death

Blame lies with the members of the public who illegally raised the deer and continued to encourage inappropriate interaction with the deer by hand-feeding, touching, and bringing the deer into their residences.

Incidents like this occur nationwide due to the public creating a dangerous situation by illegally and improperly raising wildlife.

Permitted wildlife rehabilitators also euthanize tame deer.

This time of year folks pick them up…causes problems down the road. You may not even know who your tamed raccoon/squirrel/deer injured after you dumped it off somewhere.

Our Officer appropriately handled a public safety issue created by the poor choices of others.

We understand that we are often viewed as the bad guy when the illegal actions of others create a dangerous situation that must be remedied.

If any fawns are captured, we would be happy to facilitate their placement at a proper rescue facility where they can be raised and released rather than experience the inappropriate human contact which caused the death of the doe.

Our Assessment of the Situation

Wild animals should remain wild. Human lives and well being are are vastly more important than animals. One of the primary duties is of a Wildlife Officer is to mediate the conflicts between humans and animals and when an animal poses a threat to humans it is needs to be dealt with and a lot of the time lethal action is required.