Family, ODNR battle over adopted deer

BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — Wheezer the deer is in the middle of a battle brewing between one eastern Ohio family and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Jodi Proger rescued Wheezer after his mother was hit by a car two years ago. She brought the deer home and two years later Wheezer is considered part of the family. The family bottle-fed this fawn for the first several months. Now he sleeps inside with family at night and plays in the yard on a leash during the day.

SLIDESHOW: Wheezer the deer

Proger tells NBC4 two ODNR agents showed up at her door after receiving a complaint about the deer. Proger says a Ohio Department of Corrections employee supervising prisoners on clean up duty spotted the dear and notified authorities.

The family refused to give Wheezer away and, instead, shared their story on Facebook.  They are receiving support from all over the United States and several foreign countries.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources tells NBC4 the investigation is still ongoing. There is no timetable for a decision. A spokesman told NBC4 if Wheezer is seized from the Proger family there are a number of outcomes. The deer could be relocated or even killed.

ODNR says people should never tamper with wild animals. People are urged to call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

The Proger family is also urging people not to tamper with wild animals. Jodi says she had no idea rescuing a fawn was illegal at the time and now just hopes to hold onto part of her family. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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