What would you do if you were driving down a rural road and you saw a deer playing with a family in their front yard?
“They’ll see her in the front yard and do a double take,” said Sara Kaszas, of rural Lakeville. “People have stopped back by and said, ‘We thought it was a dog. We had a bet whether it was a deer or a dog!’”
She might act like a domesticated pet but Daisy the deer is still technically a wild animal…who happens to love fruits, veggies and spearmint.
She’s also very affectionate with people and the Kaszas’ pets – two Pugs and a cat.
“She acts more like a dog,” explained Ron Kaszas. “She follows the dogs around when we let the dogs out and she goes to the neighbors’ houses.”
Ron and Sara found Daisy in a ditch across the street from their southern St. Joseph County home last June, a day or two after she was born.
“We let her cry a little bit and no deer mom came around,” Ron explained. “And the farmer who owns the land across the street said there was a dead deer at the corner.”
“It’s just one of those things that touches your heart,” said Sara.
“I just didn’t have the heart to sit there and let her die,” he added.
So Ron, Sara and their 12 and 14-year-old kids nursed the fawn back to health with goat’s milk and fresh greens.
“[We] just thought get her to the point where she can take care of herself and let her go and she just became so much a part of the family. She's gone sometimes for days at a time and we hope she's OK. We'll go out and call her to make sure she comes back,” Sara said.
Ron also put a bright orange collar on Daisy during hunting season and spread the word among local farmers to make sure she didn’t get shot.
So far, Daisy always comes back to their home. The family has iPhone videos to prove it, showing Daisy inside their house, eating grapes right out of the refrigerator.
Another video shows her frolicking in the snow with their kids.
The Kaszas know Daisy might not be around forever, but they’re proud of the bond they have.
“We’re worried with the street out there that somebody flying down the road might just hit her,” Sara said.
“The reason mainly we did it is just to give her half a chance,” added Ron.
Ron has a degree in conservation law enforcement and is also a South Bend police officer – he says fellow officers poke fun at him for having a pet deer. Christmas Day, for example, he had to call his supervisor and ask permission to run home because Daisy somehow got onto the roof of the family’s home.
However, he explained he was able to help Daisy down by bear hugging her and sliding down.
A Department of Natural Resources spokesman told WSBT the Kaszas are not doing anything illegal by feeding Daisy and allowing her into their home, because they don’t keep her on a leash or fenced in their yard and she comes and goes freely.
However, DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said it can be harmful to take a wild animal out of its natural environment because that animal becomes dependent on people for food. Wild animals can also carry infections and disease.