Lilly is just like any other house pet. She hangs out in the living room and plays outside with the family dog.
But Lilly is a deer. Her owners, who asked not to be named, say they are in a legal battle to keep their pet at home.
Five years ago, Lilly’s pregnant mother was hit by a car in Genesee County, Mich. Police were called, and the pregnant deer gave birth to Lilly as she lay dying.
Lilly was in “rough shape, but she was alive,” her owner said. “I asked the officer if he had any problem if we could try to save her and he said, ‘Go ahead, she won’t last fifteen minutes, but give it a try.’ Five years later, she’s a member of our family and we love her to pieces.”
But the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the law prohibits the possession of a live wild animal, including deer. The agency got involved after a neighbor’s friend complained about Lilly.
The prospect of losing Lilly is painful for the family.
“It would be like taking a child away. … She sleeps on a futon, she watches TV,” the deer’s owner said, adding that she “plays Frisbee with the boys.”
The state says it’s dangerous to keep a deer in a house, noting that wild animals can become violent. The owners now worry that Lilly will have to be euthanized because she has never lived in the wild.
“It would be very, very devastating …,” Lilly’s owner said. “I think there’s exceptions to the rules. Sometimes love should be enough.”