Six years ago, Mantei said, an ordinary morning took a turn for the exotic when Filipetti was driving some of their six children to catch a school bus. Lying on the roadside was a white fawn, dappled with brown spots. She was weak, with deformed back legs and hooves that curved inward, cutting her when she tried to walk.
Filipetti scooped her up and brought her home. He took her to a veterinarian in Woodburn, who fitted her deformed legs with tiny casts to straighten them, changing the casts every 10 days. At home, they put carpet scraps on the wood floors to keep Snowball from slipping. And come holiday season, they let Snowball nibble their Christmas tree.
The doe lived in the house for almost a year, Mantei said. She slept at their bedside and picked up mannerisms from the family dog -- Tasha, a cocker spaniel -- pawing at people with a hoof when she wanted attention.
You know what happens next:
In March, police received a tip from an anonymous source -- Mantei believes it was an estranged family member -- that the couple were keeping deer on their property. State troopers inspected the grounds in early April.
Then, about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Mantei went to the front door to find the police had returned.
For more than eight hours Wednesday, a Molalla family pleaded with police and wildlife officers to take away their trailer and dart gun and let them keep two deer they'd raised as pets.
"These deer wouldn't even be alive without us," said Jim Filipetti, 43, who was working in Bend Wednesday and negotiating by phone. "I brought that deer (Snowball) to the vet every 10 days. We raised it in our house. And they want to take her away. It's ridiculous."
But after a day of tears, frantic phone calls and failed compromises, officers darted Snowball, a mottled 6-year-old doe, and Bucky, her yearling buck, and prepared to haul them away. The animals will be evaluated, with three possible outcomes: transfer to a licensed wildlife facility, release into the wild or euthanasia.
After nearly the entire state of Oregon flooded state offices with calls in protest, state officials are now promising that neither animal with be euthanized, and they may even allow the family to take Snowball back. Bucky will stay in state custody, or be released into the wild (where he isn't likely to survive).