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Covering Snowball and Bucky

by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW

kgw.com

Posted on September 14, 2007 at 6:42 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

dooris.jpg

It’s a rare story that takes off like the one involving Snowball the deer and her offspring Bucky.
I'm not quite sure where it will end.

Viewers have shown incredible passion about these two black tail deer.

As the reporter assigned the story Wednesday morning, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about the entire thing.
I suspected the animals were not well cared for and the conditions not the best.

I was surprised to find quite the opposite. Jim Filipetti and his long time companion Francis Mantei obviously love their animals---and seem to have worked hard to keep all their animals (they have 20 to 25 including dogs, pigs, llamas, turkey, cats, peacocks, pigeons and others ) healthy and living in what appeared to be good conditions.

Francis told me how she'd gone on the internet to learn what to feed deer when Jim first brought home the crippled little one they named Snowball.

While I was their, the family's 4 year old and their handyman brought over clipped apple branches to feed the deer.

It was the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster ride for everyone at the home on Wednesday. When we arrived---Francis was sad and angry and resigned to the fact the state was going to take both deer from their home.

Her daughter walked by and asked me in a very serious 4 year old voice why I was taking away her deer. I explained I was a reporter from the tv station---she was not impressed.

Around 1:30pm the state seemed ready to make a deal. They offered Francis a compromise. They would take Bucky…the year and a half old buck and see if he could be released to the wild. Francis seemed fine with that---although later Jim said he was not.

The state also offered to not seize Snowball..but instead let the family release the white deer on the family's property. It seemed like a perfect solution---until they delved into the details.

The family learned they could not contain Snowball in anyway. No fences, gates etc. could be used. The family didn’t think the doe would wander far, but then they realized they could not protect her from predators either.

They also read the document the state wanted them to sign, which included a provision to search the property at any time.

Suddenly they began envisioning their beloved animal being ripped to shreds by neighborhood dogs and they would not be able to do a thing. They were also told they could not take Snowball to the vet if she got sick---and state agents showing up when ever they wanted.

Jim Filipetti said--- no way.

Eventually the animals were drugged and taken away by state vets.

The family's four year old, who had been kept away at a friend's during much of the drama, returned.

She walked up and asked me---"did they take my deer?" I pretended I didn’t hear her. "Did they take my deer?" she insisted. I looked down at her and said, "yes they did honey." Why? She wanted to know---

It’s a long story.

And its not over yet.

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