As reported by CBS in Baltimore, the unbelievable outrage provoked 976 comments on the Internet on the first day.
The Baltimore Sun’s Laura Vozzella reported:
“Two men who rescued a deer trapped in a Patapsco River ice were each fined $90 by a state Natural Resources Police officer because they did not have life vests aboard the inflatable boat they used to reach the animal.
“A 9-1-1 caller reported a deer stuck in the ice near Route 648 about 5 p.m. Sgt. Brian Albert of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police said.
“A Natural Resources officer and a Baltimore County fire crew arrived and were discussing whether to attempt a rescue when two men on the scene decided they would do it themselves, Albert said.” (Think about that! The authorities arrived and discussed whether to rescue!)
“‘The river there, I am told, is probably over 100 feet wide, maybe a little wider,’ Sgt. Albert said, noting that the deer was ‘out toward the middle’ of the river, which ‘more than likely has some current.’
“‘The fire department was kind of game-planning what they would do. With Natural Resources police, we will attempt, but we’re not going to risk a human life for a deer life, as cruel as that may sound. … I’m as sympathetic as the next person on that deer being in the water, but when you weigh the risk to the reward, I would probably decide not to rescue that deer.’
“Firefighters and the natural resources officer advised the men not to go out on the water, particularly without life vests, Albert said. But the men went out in their boat and freed the deer.
“‘I saw something moving. I saw them trying to break the ice,’ said Jim Hart, 46, who lives in Carroll County. He said he was driving by and felt compelled to stop to see what was happening. Khalil Abusakran, 33, from Baltimore County, said he was also driving by the scene when he noticed that people were throwing rocks and sticks at the deer, causing Abusakran to get his river boat from his van to rescue the deer.
“‘The deer was stuck and couldn’t get up off the ice,’ he said.
“Abusakran and Hart then went into the water, which they described as about 10 feet deep. Hart said they had to work to break the ice using their oars and shovels. The two men were finally able to break open a wide enough section of ice to free the deer. Abusakran said he later noticed that he thought the deer was pregnant. He released her into Baltimore Highlands Park.”
Then – and let me first ask: Are you sitting down? – “Hart said the natural resources officer issued them $90 citations for not having personal flotation devices on board. State law requires that all boaters have a personal floatation device with them at all times in any navigable body of water, though they are not required to wear them unless they are younger than 16. But Abusakran said he had two personal flotation devices in his boat and that he repeatedly told the Natural Resources officer.
“Albert said, however, the men could have faced a stiffer charge: disobeying a lawful order.
“‘They could have been arrested and taken before a commissioner,’ Albert said. ‘Our officer erred on the side of the least evasive action that he could take at the time.’
“Hart said several people have already contacted him offering to pay the citation, but he said that’s not the point. The men said they will fight the citations in court on Feb. 18.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, begs a number of questions:
Both CBS and the Sun are to be commended for reporting this outrage. But why is there no report that either of these two news agencies contacted Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to ask how in the name of human decency, in opposition to cruelty to animals, he has not already fired this natural resources officer who fined these two rescuers $90?
Where is the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA?
(I’m glad there was no report of any reaction from the so-called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – given its odious record of executing so many of the same.)
Let me express my fervent hope that when these deer rescuers, Abusakran and Hart, go to court on Feb. 18, the judge will be fair enough to increase the amount of those fines – but apply them to that Natural Resources officer and to his superior. And wouldn’t it be a marvelous object lesson for a fine as well for Gov. Martin O’Malley?