News & Politics

Overkill: Armed Agents Raid Wisconsin Animal Shelter; Kill Baby Deer Named Giggles

"It was like a SWAT team," shelter employee says.

When an Illinois family brought a baby fawn to a no-kill shelter at the Society of St. Francis on the Kenosha-Illinois border, they figured the fawn's mother had abandoned her, and hoped to save her life.

That hope turned into a nightmare two weeks ago when multiple squad cars and heavily armed police officers arrived at the shelter with a search warrant for the fawn that had been nicknamed Giggles for a noise she made that sounded like laughter. "It was like a SWAT team," shelter employee Ray Schulze told WISN 12 News.

Apparently, the  Department of Natural Resources had received anonymous reports of a baby deer living at the shelter. Nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, all armed to the teeth, was the proportionate response. The agents even had aerial photos of the fawn going in and out of the barn, because Wisconsin law forbids the posession of wildlife.

No problem, shelter employees said. Giggles was scheduled to go to the wildlife reserve the very next day.

Giggles never made it. According to WISN 12 News, the agents "corralled workers near the picnic area and then set out in search of the fawn." And that was more or less the end of Giggles.

"I was thinking in my mind they were going to take the deer and take it to a wildlife shelter, and here they come carrying the baby deer over their shoulder. She was in a body bag," Schulze said. "I said, 'Why did you do that?' He said, 'That's our policy,' and I said, 'That's one hell of a policy.'"

Later a spokeswoman for DNR made sympathetic noises about how the shelter tried to do the right thing, but policies are policies. She also denied agents killed Giggles at the shelter, saying she was tranquilized, then euthanized later.

It was not a response that satisfied shelter workers, who also wondered just how much the Operation Giggles cost the taxpayers.

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