Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Trapped Deer Gets Its Throat Slit In 'Barbaric' Killing By Animal Control Officers

Support your source for local news!
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

Veterinarians are speaking out against the way Orange County Animal Care officers put down a trapped deer in Anaheim Hills, calling it "barbaric and improper."

Animal Care officers Sergeant Juan Orozco and Officer David Serrato responded to a call from veterinarian Kathleen Johnson on the night of September 29 when she found a deer hanging upside down from a fence. The deer had impaled its left hind leg and was thrashing violently about, trying to free itself. "It was very distressed. It was kicking with its rear legs. It was pawing with its front," Johnson told ABC 7.

The officers made the decision to put the animal down, but when Johnson saw that they were planning to slit its throat she offered her abilities to provide a painless solution for the deer. However, Orozco thought the situation was too dangerous for Johnson to intervene.

After slitting the animal's throat the officers also used the knife to cut the deer's leg off because it was too heavy to lift off the fence. Using a shotgun was also out of the question for the officers, because of how close the animal was to residences.

Support for LAist comes from

"I felt I made the right decision and 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," Orozco wrote in an email to his supervisor. The Animal Care officers had covered the buck's head with a towel and hogtied its front legs, but felt that the animal's antlers and strength would still make the situation too dangerous.

Veterinarians from the Serrano Animal And Bird Hospital performed a necropsy on the deer and denounced the officers' actions as "a barbaric and improper method of euthanasia," and added that other options were available for the officers to carry out the deed.

Orange County Animal Care responded to these charges in a statement, saying, "Euthanasia in the field is permitted only in specified circumstances when it is safe for both the officer and the public."

Orozco and Serrato have been placed on paid administrative leave and are under investigation for the incident. However, they are not facing any criminal charges.

Most Read