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Sisters say they never intended to keep four fawns as pets

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VESTABURG, Mich. - The sisters from Montcalm County who took four fawns into their home are sharing their side of the story first with FOX 17.  They say they never intended to keep the deer as pets.

Karen Hofstetter, 25, said Thursday she intends to fully pay her $575 fine after she pleaded guilty for one count of deer parts possession, in exchange to drop the three others which totalled $4,000 in possible fines. She and her sister Chelsea say they were raised being taught to help animals in need, and felt they were doing so in this case.

“We saved the fawn, called the DNR, they told us there was nothing they could do and to put it back where we found it," said Hofstetter. "I wasn’t putting it back in the dog’s mouth, and I wasn’t putting it back in the middle of the river, that doesn’t work for me.”

The sisters found the four fawns during two trips kayaking the Pine River near their Vestaburg home

Hofstetter says she and Chelsea rescued the first fawn mid May from a neighbor's dog, though she says she gave this fawn to a cousin to care for it.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Officer Josh Russell told Hofstetter to immediately return the fawn. He explained that does initially leave their newborn fawn to avoid passing on any scent, but return to care for them.

Then, one week later, the girls say they found triplet fawns and again thought they needed help, finding them in a puddle crying.

"They were crying, I didn’t know the mom was going to come back," said Hofstetter's sister Chelsea. “Yeah we took them because we figured we were saving them, but in reality obviously we weren’t. And I definitely regret it now that lesson learned.”

The pictures Hofstetter posted on Facebook-a selfie with one fawn, then three fawns inside her bedroom-without context were damning. She says they never intended to keep them as pets, and gave the three to family friends who were trained to raise deer.

“As soon as we got back here, I called, they were gone within an hour and a half, my mom didn’t even know they were here until I showed her a picture and she freaked right out," said Hofstetter. "I was like, ‘they’re gone! We ain’t got no pets, they’re gone!’”

The sisters apologized but said they were frustrated with the DNR banging on their door early in the morning.

“They were all mad because I argued with them and told them off here but it’s like 7:30 in the morning, you’re pounding on the door like the damn SWAT team," said Hofstetter. "Who’s not going to have an attitude when you can hear them over the generator?”

Taking her anger to Facebook, Hofstetter posted a series of vulgar statements toward the DNR, then wrote a final threat saying she would kill wild animals from this point on. She says she regrets it and never meant it.

“I’ve never actually killed an animal in my life in all honesty, I don’t know if I could, and I’m sorry I posted it," she said.

Lessons learned to not intervene with nature.

“People can be haters and drink their haterade and have whatever assumption of me, I don’t care," said Hofstetter. "I know who I am and I sleep okay at night knowing that I tried.”


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  • Gigantic Johnson

    Dang y’all. She lucky she white or her family would probly be plannin a funeral bout now.

  • Commonsense

    WXMI, why did you put this white trash in a news story? They would be better served by speech and mental health therapy!

  • jerry

    and people think that the school system can try to teach people like this maybe if they would learn to talk like a person things would get better for them

  • Andrew

    These women need to go back to school and get a proper education. Not because of how they talk, but because of how they think. In this case, they need to be taught that wild animals are not yours to save. Having compassion for animals is a good thing. Intervening in their lives (and deaths) however, usually does more harm than good. Whoever taught you to try to help animals in need did not teach you well. What they should have taught you is to help animals in need as much as you can without intervening, and where intervention seems necessary to defer to the professionals. When the professionals tell you to leave it alone, you leave it alone. And here is the root of the problem, right here:
    “”I wasn’t putting it back in the dog’s mouth, and I wasn’t putting it back in the middle of the river, that doesn’t work for me.”
    Check the pronouns. This statement reflects that the concern was not about the animal, but about herself. “That doesn’t work for ME.” You can not care for wild animals unless you are both willing and able to drop the ME from the equation entirely. Domestic animals are one thing, pets and livestock rely on a relationship with humans for survival and quality of life. Wild animals are different in that regard, and therefore need to be treated differently. Sometimes that means that human beings will have to witness things which FOR US are sad, but which FOR THEM are necessary. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t feel sorry for them, but it does mean that we should keep our hands off.

    Nature isn’t natural if we fiddle with it because we don’t like it. Nature is often ugly and cruel to our eyes, and people need to accept it for what it is. They can not do that without a proper education.

    These women need to recognize their own needs, and get the education that they obviously missed out on as kids. They need to see and accept that THEY are no different than the fawns in the dog’s mouth…they are in desperate need of help…and they should be grateful that we do not force them into taking that help involuntarily. I hope that staying in the dog’s mouth doesn’t work for them, and that they help themselves by signing up for adult ed classes.

    • Andrew

      One more thing to add…
      “I’ve never actually killed an animal in my life in all honesty, I don’t know if I could…”

      Yes, she has. We all do it all the time. We deliberately and with malice swat mosquitoes and flies, we step on ants with no regard to them at all, and we actively contribute to the deaths of other animals all the freaking time through our normal everyday actions. That is called “the balance of nature”, and it is part of living in a healthy and diverse biological world. We can not NOT do it and still survive as a species. EVERY animal on the planet kills other animals, both deliberately and casually.

      Again, with a proper education, she would know this. She says at the end “I know who I am”, but the fact is that she really doesn’t. She doesn’t understand who she is because she doesn’t understand WHAT she is and what the role of human beings is on this planet. You can not understand who you are if you don’t know and understand WHAT you are.

  • Drunk on haterade

    Can we talk about the fact that she was annoyed because the DNR was banging so loudly that she could hear them over the generator?! Um hi hello, wut??

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