Pasco deer that gored woman's eye relocated - WFLA News Channel 8

Pasco deer that gored woman's eye relocated

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This deer at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Pasco Co. gored a woman's eye on Friday. This deer at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Pasco Co. gored a woman's eye on Friday.
PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The deer involved in an attack that left a Pasco County woman severely injured was relocated to another facility on Monday.

Vernon Yates with Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Seminole picked up the deer Monday afternoon.

The attack happened on Friday morning at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Pasco County. That's the same facility where a lion burrowed out of its cage one week before. The lion, named Savannah, roamed the sanctuary but never escaped. Yates responded to that incident as well. He tranquilized the lion and Florida Fish and Wildlife Officers relocated it to another cage.

"All I know is when I was up here to tranquilize the lion, it [the deer] was running loose," said Yates. "I seen it as a potential danger, and I said it was going to happen and it did happen."

Judy Watson, the owner of S.O.S., disputes Yates' account.

"Oh my gosh, if he had said that to me, I have a place to take him, yes, let's take him. That was my goal from the beginning," Watson said. "I wanted him to be with deer and released. He doesn't belong in captivity."

Watson says she let the deer, named Vinny, roam the sanctuary at night, but failed to tell her sister, Sylvia Fernandez, it was out. She says she's cried more in the last three days than she has in years.

"If only we could rewind life. But we can't. So this is, this is how her attitude is also. We're very much alike. This is where we are today, this is what has happened, I take responsibility and we go on, whatever needs to be done," said Watson.

She says her sister did lose her eye in the attack, but remains in good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were at the facility Monday to investigate the case. FWC spokesman Gary Morse told WFLA.com that there are no prior incidents with that particular deer that will be made public. He says the case is going to be referred to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

FWC Officer Baryl Martin says the facility has not had major problems in the past, so two mishaps in a week's time seems like a fluke.

"This facility hasn't had a problem for 30 years," said Martin. "This individual hasn't had a problem or any issues for over 30 years for keeping captive wildlife, so this is just an anomaly. "

After the attack, Watson immediately called 911 for assistance. Earlier in the week, Watson had defended the facility, saying it's a shame incidents like these overshadow all of the positive work she and her volunteers do on a daily basis.

"I mean I've been out here working with the Jane Goodall Foundation, the roots and shoots kids for twelve years," said Watson. "They come here in the sixth grade when they're 11-years-old and they stay for three years then we start with brand new sixth graders after three years."

If Fish and Wildlife investigators determine Watson was negligent in the deer attack case, she could face a misdemeanor charge of unsafe housing of a class three animal resulting in injury. That offense is punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to a year in jail.



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