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Too much paperwork leads to beating death of injured deer

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The Founder
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Too much paperwork leads to beating death of injured deer

Road crew bludgeons hurt deer on I-440

After spending nearly two hours on the grass along Interstate 440 comforting an injured deer and keeping it out of traffic, Carol Kueny waited for an officer to fire the shot that would end its misery.

Instead, she heard the repeated smack of a shovel. The Pigeon Forge woman shut her eyes and counted 11, 12, 13 thuds.

An assortment of police officers and workers from the Tennessee Department of Transportation responded to the spot where the deer was, but Kueny never got the help she was looking for a quick death for the injured animal.

The bizarre response to her 911 call Wednesday, and the violent death of the animal, has left transportation officials and Metro police re-examining who bears responsibility for dealing with injured animals and whether training is needed to ensure dying animals are treated humanely.

"It was like a comedy of errors," said Kueny, adding: "If I'd known that was what was going to happen, I would've found the strength to twist that deer's neck and kill it myself."

Deer kept from traffic

Shortly before, Kueny watched the deer plunge from a freeway overpass near West End Avenue. She pulled over, afraid the flailing animal would cause an accident in the heavy morning traffic. She called 911 twice.

"We certainly wish there would've been another way this situation could've been handled," said TDOT spokeswoman B.J. Doughty. "This is not the responsibility of maintenance people. They were trying to do the humane thing and put this deer out of its misery. They don't carry any weapons."

Kueny was taking her husband to a doctor's appointment at Saint Thomas Hospital when they pulled off the road to help the deer. Metro police Officer Walter Holloway was with Kueny for more than an hour and a half, Kueny said.

She asked Holloway to shoot the animal. According to Kueny, he said he couldn't.

"He said he would have to fill out a long report if he shot it," Kueny said.

Holloway, reached by cell phone, declined to comment.

A Metro dispatcher called for help from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, but no wildlife officers were on duty, according to the agency.

A Transportation Department road assistance truck arrived in the meantime. The driver called out a maintenance worker who typically removes dead animals from the roadway.

Kueny sent her husband on to the doctor's appointment and planned to take a ride from the police officer. She dragged the deer back toward the grass several times when it started toward the road. She now wishes she had just left.

The maintenance worker beat the deer with an aluminum shovel from his truck. When the men saw the deer was still alive, someone retrieved a sledgehammer for the final blow. Doughty would not release the name of the worker who killed the deer, citing an internal decision to protect him from threats that could result.

"I feel sure he didn't know the animal was alive when he was called," said Billy Dawson, a maintenance supervisor with the Transportation Department. "We don't typically handle those situations."

Kueny, who was waiting in the back of the patrol car, still can't get the picture of the shovel out of her head.

"I started blaming myself for stopping that deer from dying a quick death, said Kueny, 52. "It would've jumped into traffic and been over with."

Officer refused to fire

According to Metro police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford, Holloway contacted his supervisor and said he wasn't going to fire his gun because he didn't feel it was a safe situation to fire.

Law enforcement officers are usually asked to put down an injured animal, said Laura Simon, field director for the urban wildlife program at the Humane Society of the United States.

"Animals suffering greatly can be a threat to human safety," Simon said. "Normally, police respond and shoot it in the head, which may not be ideal, but it's the most efficient and humane way."

The state wildlife agency is generally the second option, Simon said.

"My question is: Why weren't the police and state agency doing their jobs? I'm sure that maintenance man was well-intentioned, but that's a horror show," Simon said.

While the Metro police department has no policy on handling injured animals, the issue is addressed in the policy on using force.

Officers can fire their weapon "to destroy seriously injured and suffering or dangerous animals when no other disposition is practical," according to the policy. At least 65 injured deer have been killed by Metro officers since January 2005, Mumford said.

"It's up to the officer's discretion if they call (the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) or animal control," Mumford said. "Generally our officers do what is most humane for an injured animal.

Holloway's decisions will be fully reviewed by the department, Mumford said.

More training may come

Dealing with injured animals is a relatively common call for the state wildlife agency, whose officers are armed.

They generally shoot gravely injured animals when it's safe to do so, said agency spokesman Doug Markum. The agency has two officers who work in Davidson County, but neither was working Wednesday morning.

"We did receive a call from Metro emergency operations (Wednesday)," Markum said. "We asked Metro to go ahead and handle it, because we didn't have an officer on duty at that time. ... We've had officers put animals down for us, since police officers know what they're doing."

Doughty of TDOT said the agency plans to meet with the state's wildlife agency next week to discuss the incident and training for staff that might encounter injured animals. In the meantime, Doughty said, all the maintenance staff in the state has been supplied with the wildlife agency's number and instructions to call them for help.

Witness upset by death

Kueny said she's no tree hugger. She's not opposed to hunting. She was more worried about people driving on I-440 than the deer she knew would die from its injuries.

But hearing the deer get bludgeoned to death has left her angry and traumatized.

"It seems like a citizen should not have to be the one to have that common sense," Kueny said. "You kill it quick, you don't leave it sitting there for two hours. There were four or five men there, and none of them had the nerve to do something that was humane."

Post Wed 27 Jun, 2007 2:16 pm 
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Joined: 08 Jan 2007
Posts: 566

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Bunch of feminized PC nitwits made a deer suffer and put motorists in harms way. Leave it to the lowly maitenance guy and a shovel to do the right honorable thing. Thats how it is today, the lowly (unprogressive) get the dirty jobs done and then the PC nitwits shudder at the brutality of it and turn their noses up.
Love, love, love.

Post Wed 27 Jun, 2007 5:48 pm 
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Posts: 276

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lol.... oh my god that's awful, but funny how this was the best way they could come up with.

Post Sat 07 Jul, 2007 6:30 am 
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Laughing What a bunch of fools. Laughing

Post Mon 09 Jul, 2007 4:27 pm 
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