Thomasville-- In this quiet Thomasville neighborhood, deer sightings are common. This deer, which neighbors had taken pictures of just days before the attack, had been hanging around for several days.
That's why Jessica Vidal was not frightened when it was in her driveway one morning. "We tried to walk past him and we got to the van and that's when he got up on his hind legs and kicked me with his front legs. And I pulled the baby to the front of me and the 3-year-old between me and my car," Vidal explains.
Vidal's husband heard her scream and managed to fight off the deer with an umbrella, but not before it hit her 7 or 8 times. "I had a knot on the top of my head but he mostly got me in the shoulders and in the mid back," Vidal says.
On the way home from the urgent care center Vidal came to the rescue of a woman walking down a nearby road pushing a stroller with the deer close behind her. "She took her baby out and got in my van and before we could even close the door, the deer had pushed the stroller into the ditch," she explains. Vidal then called the game warden to come out to her home.
"I contacted the Thomas county rehabilitator, she came out, we captured the deer, tranquilized it," says David Brady, Ranger 1st Class of the Department of Natural Resources. The deer was brought to the Androcles Society wildlife refuge. The rehabilitator there, Lorraine Conklin explains this deer has been raised its whole life as a pet by people who live in town. "Among people, its his peers, and he's going to do with them what he will do with other deer and that can be dangerous."
She doesn't believe the deer was trying to cause harm, and neither does the game warden. "My guess it was half play, half mating. That's what they do when they play with each other." Brady adds, "The main cause I would say would be the feeding of the wild life and people are getting real familiar with seeing them, and they just get too comfortable around them. You have to realize that these are wild animals."
Vidal says she'll definitely take that lesson to heart. She warns others, "Just know that even though they're pretty and even though they're really nice and they'll come up to you, they're still wild animals." And the best place for them to be is in the wild. If you do spot a wild animal you think needs help, contact the Department of Natural Resources.
That deer was euthanized this afternoon. The carcass was taken to the Southeastern Cooperative Disease Study at the The University of Georgia to be studied.