Orange County Animal Care officers' "barbaric and improper method" of euthanizing a deer impaled on a fence in Anaheim Hills by slitting its throat has sparked a county investigation–a probe that might not be had the killing not been done in front of a horrified veterinarian.
Kathleen Johnson, who works out of Yorba Regional Animal Hospital, called Animal Control one night recently after finding the deer "hanging upside down frantic," she told ABC7 News.
"It was very distressed," the vet added. "It was kicking with its rear legs. It was pawing with its front."
Forty-five minutes after arriving, Animal Care Sgt. Juan Orozco and Officer David Serrato covered the deer's head with a towel and hog-tied its front legs to its neck to keep it from moving. As one officer pulled out a knife and talked to his colleague about where he should cut the leg off, Johnson says she interjected that she is a veterinarian who has a "euthanasia solution. I can do it very painlessly for you."
The answer: "No."
The deer's throat was then slit and its leg cut off to remove it from the fence.
"I'm horrified. You can't do that. This is a living human being," Johnson recalled saying. But her protests did not end there, as she filed a formal complaint with the county.
Orozco defended the officers' actions in an email to his supervisor, noting, "even if she really is a vet I did not feel safe at all to have her stick the needle in with the deer still being very strong and being able to use his head."
But veterinarians who performed the necropsy wrote in their report that what the officers did was "a barbaric and improper method of euthanasia," pointing out that other options were available.
Orozco and Serrato were placed on paid administrative leave and are now being investigated, according to the county.