PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A deer in Downtown Pittsburgh over the weekend frightened drivers, nearly caused accidents, and ultimately, had to be put down.
Killing the deer is not what the police wanted to do, but the animal was unpredictable and was considered a threat to public safety.
The loading dock of the old Pittsburgh Post-Gazette building is simply not where a 2-year-old buck should be hanging out. The animal had already led police on a chase from Third Avenue, through town, and was anything but calm.
“In a matter of a second, that deer could have caused a lot of damage to property downtown, it could have gotten back out into the street, and made it a very bad Father’s Day for a family in a car,” said Pittsburgh Police spokesperson Sonya Toler.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Conservation Officer Dan Puhala says a deer in distress is nothing to mess with.
“Some of the big concerns would be going into traffic or even a possible crowd of people if it was in a panic situation,” says Officer Puhala.
Handling large animal situations like this is the state’s job, so the call went out to the Game Commission.
They issued this statement Monday: “The Game Commission isn’t staffed to respond immediately 24 hours a day. A call-out system is used in the off hours and by the time an officer could be reached who could respond Sunday; the police had already put the deer down.”
After about an hour, a police supervisor on scene made that decision.
“In light of the public safety, that supervisor had to make a very difficult decision,” Toler said.
In their statement, the Game Commission goes on to say: “If we are unable to get an officer on scene we yield to the police and their best judgement in the name of public safety, so we are not going to second guess the call made by the police.”
While Officer Puhala would not comment on Sunday’s situation downtown, he says tranquilizing a deer in high distress is risky.
The drugs can take several minutes to kick in, and the deer will run. Then, there’s something called “capture myopthy.”
“Where it’s basically the stress of the whole incident can actually be fatal to the deer,” Officer Puhala said.
Both the Game Commission and Pittsburgh Police understand what happened is not what animal lovers like to see. But both organizations agree that the officers were faced with a difficult decision and did what they had to do.