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Yes Deer: Couple Can Keep Lilly the Doe as Pet

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 26, 2013 10:54 AM

Lilly the Deer gets her happy ending, after all. We previously discussed the legal uncertainty of Lilly's future with her human family -- technically, the family needed to a permit to keep her.

But now, the 5-year-old white-tailed doe will be allowed to stay with the family. The humans have raised the animal from birth after her mother was killed by a car.

Attorney and former Genesee County Circuit Judge Val Washington won the legal battle with Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) over Lilly's fate, reports the New York Daily News.

The DNR's Decision

The DNR originally wanted the domesticated deer to be moved to the Detroit Zoo, as long as she was found free of disease. But after finding that Lilly wouldn't be able to survive elsewhere, the DNR made a settlement agreement to allow Lilly to remain in her home.

Lilly's caretakers issued a public statement Monday, which read: "Lilly's caretakers recognize that the circumstances under which Lilly became a member of their household and hearts are unique and were not authorized by any rule or law of the state of Michigan."

Not to burst a feel-good Disney-esque statement about unique hearts, but their statement isn't accurate. This situation had less to do with unique hearts and more to do with the DNR's discretion.

While the family is subject to Michigan rules and laws, the DNR has discretion to choose what is most appropriate for the deer. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators can possess injured or orphaned animals from the wild -- and this is no exception.

Next Steps for Lilly's Owners

Lilly's caretakers will be required to register their home as a privately owned facility for deer or elk and must adhere to the requirements of a state law that governs private ownership of deer or elk, reports MLive.

The family will also have to pay a $450 annual fee for a permit to keep Lilly and get her tested for various diseases, including Lyme disease.

In this case, the DNR likely learned that when it comes to certain orphaned deer with adorable names and human families, the galvanized social media force is not to be trifled with.

We, as a society, take cute very seriously.

But contrary to popular belief, the moral of the Lilly story is not to start a media frenzy and collect wild animals. Even the family is discouraging the public from taking wild animals as pets. So think twice before you go buckwild and take it upon yourself to "rescue" an adorable fawn from the wild.

For your purposes, stick to your hikes to get your fawn fix and keep puppies as pets. For the DNR, the buck stops here. (Har har.)

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