LIBERTY TOWNSHIP | Eva Menconi said she woke early Wednesday to what sounded like a baby lamb crying in the distance outside her home in the Abercrombie Woods subdivision along County Road 1050 North.
She called the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for help, but was told wild animals are born this time of year and not to worry.
Yet with the cries becoming louder and more desperate, Menconi went investigating and eventually found a baby deer with white spots lying on the ground with its leg entangled in barbed wire.
With the help of a neighbor and juggling to keep an eye on her own 11-month-old son, Menconi managed to cut away the barbed wire and attempted to clean the animal's damaged leg with peroxide. When attempts to contain the fawn in a cardboard box failed, Menconi laid it in a playpen and decided to take it to McAfee Animal Hospital in Valparaiso.
After delivering the fawn and learning its leg would have to be amputated, Menconi said she found a sanctuary near Indianapolis willing to take in the disabled animal. She was then saddened to learn the fawn was euthanized at the order of the DNR.
"I feel defeated today," she said a day after her experience. "I don't see what the issue was. He was a baby. He wasn't hurting anybody."
What frustrates her is that when she repeatedly sought help from the DNR, she was told an officer would not be available until mid-afternoon. Yet the agency was available to make sure the fawn was euthanized.
DNR Director of Communications Phil Bloom lauded Menconi's efforts Friday, saying she did the right thing by rescuing the animal and then seeking help from either a veterinarian or licensed wildlife rehabilitation expert.
Yet the need to remove the animal's leg would have left it unable to survive on its own in the wild, he said. State law requires animals that can't be released be euthanized, he said.
There is not a legal option to take this type of animal to a refuge, Bloom said.
Menconi said Friday she is left saddened by the outcome of her rescue and would like to see the law softened to allow exceptions for young animals that could live out a life in a petting zoo or at a sanctuary.
"I think he really should have had a second chance at life," she said.