FISHERS, Ind. – Bimbo the deer was becoming something of a celebrity in this city after he was spotted palling around with two husky dogs.
A family in Fishers started caring for the fawn last summer after finding him along the side of the road, away from his mother and close to traffic.
“We thought he would end up leaving, just taking off and not coming back, but he actually started forming a really great bond with our dogs,” said Trixi Lopez, who cared for the deer along with her husband, Saul Lopez Raya. “Our oldest dog, Cari, instantly started acting like a mother to him.”
On Tuesday, the family was surprised and saddened to get a knock on the door from Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officers, who arrived to seize the deer following complaints about a wild animal being kept as a pet.
Capt. Jet Quillen, who handles public relations for DNR’s law enforcement division, confirmed that the deer was seized around 11 a.m. with help from Fishers Animal Control. It is illegal in Indiana to keep a wild white-tailed deer as a pet, he said.
“We understand that these situations can be difficult and we have empathy for the family, but we can’t overlook the law,” Quillen said. “It’s not fair for that wild animal to be kept as a pet. Wild animals are meant to be wild.”
Lopez said she and her husband were ‘blown away’ by the bond their dogs formed with Bimbo (who was named after a Mexican brand of sandwich bread — not the slang term for an attractive but unintelligent woman).
The older husky slept next to Bimbo and cared for him like a mother, while the younger dog was more of a partner in crime. Bimbo and Lobo, pictured below in photos from the Fishers Chatter Facebook group, escaped last week and ended up in front of this office building before the family was contacted and came to pick them up.
According to Lopez, Bimbo was never forced into captivity or restrained, even though the family considered him a pet, but he did learn how to go in and out of the home’s doggie door by following the huskies.
“We’re not holding him hostage here. We don’t have him tied to a rope, to a chain. He’s free to come and go as he pleases,” she said.
Quillen, the DNR officer, said the deer was determined to be a pet based on pictures of him inside the house on social media. In addition to being illegal, keeping a wild deer as a pet is dangerous because they can become aggressive during mating season, he said.
After the seizure, Bimbo was taken to a licensed animal rehabilitator, where he will be prepared for re-release into the wild.
“The animal had obviously been imprinted by humans, so a rehabilitator will try to get the deer back to being a wild animal,” Quillen said.
Lopez said they’re hearing from a lot of people in the community who have offered to start a petition or fundraising campaign to get the deer back.
“A lot of people are sad that they just took him,” she said. “We don’t know if the right thing is to try to get him back or just let him be wild. Right now, he’s more of a dog than a deer.”
For more information on Indiana’s wild animal laws, including which animals are allowed as pets and the process to obtain a permit, visit the DNR website.