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Dillie, the Ohio House Deer, Defies Odds

Don’t try this at home: an Ohio family is living with a deer.  This is not the typical story we hear nearly every day: an animal person takes in an animal they are unprepared to manage and tragedy ensues for one or both. The characters and species change; the results are monotonous. This month we saw the Canadian guy killed by his pet tigers and the death of Michael Jackson’s former giraffes. Miraculously, this isn’t one of those stories.

Dillie the deer was rescued by someone who knew what she was doing. Dr. Melanie Butera (Dillie’s human mom) is a vet who does a lot of  wildlife work. Dillie’s deer mom rejected her because she was sickly and had cataracts. That means she wasn’t brought in for the usual wrong reason: somebody finds a fawn alone in the woods and doesn’t realize its mom is just out eating.

 Dillie was born on a Canton area deer farm. (Ohio has tons of farmed deer, whose purpose ranges from being pet, bred, eaten or the target of a canned hunt.) The farmer saw Dillie’s deer mom, busy with two robust other triplets, push Dillie aside. Ohio has elaborate rules banning the miscegenation of wild and farm deer, so she couldn’t go free–even if she were capable. As she’s hand-raised and nearly blind, she’s not. She’s afraid of local deer and thwarted plans to raise her in the barn by being terrified of a horse’s snort.

Then Dr. Butera went to extraordinary lengths to give her a good life, with her own room, fenced yard, Zoombak GPS collar and bed privledges and rose treats. She regards Lady as her (dog) mom and initally tried to nurse off the standard poodle.  “Vets all over the world are probably saying, ‘That’s no big deal; I have a giraffe in my basement,’ ” Dr. Butera told the Canton Rep.


Dillie has a webcam. When I looked at it she was standing on her bed. The dog was lying on the foot of the bed. The wall was decorated with letters spelling out “DILLIES.”  How many times have you looked at an animal webcam and seen an empty nest or barren habitat? Well, Dillie delivers. It’s nice to hear once about someone going the extra mile for an animal and it not ending in conflict or death.

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2 comments to Dillie, the Ohio House Deer, Defies Odds

  • Toni's Pup, "Nugget" (name for now)

    Thanks for reminding us of the dark side of keeping any wild animals. And this is unique, in that the ‘keeper’ is a veterinarian, which is wonderful and rare. You always write the best stuff ~ Thank you for your blog!

  • Kathy

    Love this. So glad these folks who could handle her special needs and are aware of the perils of wild animals in homes opened their hearts to Dillie.