Animal Law

Oregon Deer Custody Case Snowballs; Appeals Court Hearing is Held

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An ongoing case over the custody of a deformed deer that has become a family pet was reportedly the subject of an Oregon Court of Appeals hearing yesterday.

Although the state contended that the Molalla family, headed by James Filipetti and Francesca Mantei, broke the law by keeping the fawn they found in 2001 without a wildlife permit, Clackamas County prosecutors declined to pursue a criminal case, the Oregonian reports. The family says they paid for several surgeries to repair the deformed hind legs of the deer, which they named Snowball, which wouldn’t have survived without their efforts.

After Snowball was taken from them by authorities last year and relocated to an elk farm, along with her own fawn, the couple then sued the state to regain custody. They won a ruling from a Clackamas County Circuit judge, who apparently agreed with the argument made by a lawyer for the family, Geordie Duckler, that the state couldn’t retain the deer as evidence if it wasn’t going to pursue a criminal case, according to the newspaper.

The scheduled hearing yesterday focused on an appeal by the state of that ruling.

“Attempts to settle the case this summer failed, and legal bills continue to mount. As of July the state had spent at least $86,400 pursuing the case,” the newspaper writes.

Earlier coverage: “Legal Loophole in Deer Custody Case” “Suit Planned in Deer Custody Case”

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