An injured fawn was euthanized in B.C. on Friday evening after an Okanagan veterinarian was unable to find a licensed sanctuary in which the animal could live.
The injured young deer, affectionately named Gilbert, was originally brought to Dr. Moshe Oz of the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital in West Kelowna with a broken leg. According to Oz, the fawn had an open fracture that couldn’t be healed, and the animal faced either amputation of its broken leg or euthanization.
Oz wanted to amputate Gilbert’s leg and build a prosthetic for it, but only if the animal could be properly rehabilitated in a licensed sanctuary. The veterinarian added that due to its injury, the fawn could no longer live in the wild.
According to Oz, provincial rules regarding wild animals mean Gilbert can only spend so much time in human care, and if the fawn exceeded that amount of time, it would have to be euthanized.
As the veterinarian searched for a suitable home for Gilbert, Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart stepped in to secure a 24-hour extension as Oz raced against the clock.
However, a licensed facility couldn’t be found in time, and the animal was euthanized on Friday evening.
“It’s very hard to find one,” Oz said of licensed sanctuaries. “Here in B.C., we don’t have one.”
Oz and his team tried for three days to find a suitable home and ended up with no place to put Gilbert.
“Phone calls, emails — I left messages to everyone as much as I could.”
Though Gilbert’s life couldn’t be saved, Oz hopes the fawn’s story will resonate with the community.
“I take it as a way to try to educate everyone and to try to push for a solution,” he said.
The solution would be a licensed facility where wildlife can be rehabilitated and given long-term care.
“When we’re talking about wild animals, we don’t have anyone,” he said.
Private and unlicensed facilities exist, but Oz says that although they do the best they can, these facilities operate outside of current restrictions and provincial legislation.
“In theory, those wild animals belong to the government so even if you want to feed them, you have to ask for permission,” he explained.
—With files from Doyle Potenteau