Oh, Deer!

It was quite a morning for a Lake Forest homeowner who ended up with a full-sized White-tailed Deer in their house!

An adult female White-tailed Deer fell into the window well of a Lake Forest home last week. Thick snow cover was hiding the window well and it gave way as the doe stepped onto it. The homeowners contact Lake Forest police who were first responders.

Lake Forest Police tried to remove the doe from the window well using a catch pole but she thrashed around, broke through the window and ended up in the homeowner’s basement. Lake Forest Police contacted Lake County Animal Control (LCAC) for an assist.

LCAC arrived on the scene to find a doe in the basement. She was struggling – slipping and sliding on the concrete floor of the unfinished basement. She had a large avulsion (area where the skin had been ripped away to expose the muscle below) to the front of her right rear leg, presumably from when she crashed through the window.

LCAC chemically immobilized the doe and contacted us to discuss options. We advised them that once the deer was removed from the basement and if the wounds were fairly superficial, we could dress her wounds, reverse the anesthetic agent and release her.

Unlike many animals we treat, adult deer cannot be kept in captivity for rehabilitation. They will literally die of a stress-related condition known as capture myopathy, or they will thrash about in their enclosure thereby injuring or kiling themselves. So with adult deer, we hope for minor injuries that can quickly be treated so that the deer can immediately be released back to the wild for the injury to continue to heal.

LCAC had one more major hurdle – getting the roughly 200 lb. doe out of the basement! LCAC contacted Lake Forest Fire Department for help and they carried the sleeping doe out on a stretcher through the homeowner’s house.

That’s where we came in…with adult deer, field triage becomes necessary. It was only 8 degrees Farenheit and we had to prevent the doe from becoming hypothermic, which is far more likely under anesthesia. We prepared the ground by shoveling a flat area in the deep snow, putting down plastic, covering the plastic with cardboard, covering the cardboard with insulation, covering the insulation with towels, covering the towels with a soft heated kennel pad (running extension cords about 150 feet to plug it in) and covering the heated kennel pad with a blanket. The doe was then on top of the blanket and covered with four additional blankets.

We worked quickly to clean and dress her wounds. We wanted to minimize her time under anesthesia to minimize the risk of hypothermia and bloat, another possible complication. Also, the chlorhexadine used to clean her wounds was freezing almost instantly due to the extremely cold temperature. After dressing her wounds, we gave her a shot of antibiotic and reversed her anesthesia intravenously.

She was free at last after quite a stressful morning!

Our sincere thanks to Lake Forest Police, Lake County Animal Control and Lake Forest Fire for giving her a second chance.

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