Darius Sasnauskas is an avid outdoorsman and animal lover, so when he spotted a doe abandon her injured newborn because it couldn’t keep up, he knew he couldn’t leave the helpless baby deer to fend for herself.
In a nearly 20-minute video documenting the fawn’s abandonment in his Yellowstone National Park-area home and its rehabilitation back to health, the unnamed deer grows attached to the man and his pet cats and dogs.
Although Sasnauskas wrote that he does not support capturing wild animals to keep as pets, he saw no other choice but to nurse the fawn back to health in order for it be released back into the wild.
“Since Day 1 I was hoping to release the baby deer back to the wild,” he told animal news site The Dodo. “I really hoped that she’d not get attached to me too much because that would make [it] very hard for her to survive in the wild.”
After Sasnauskas took in the deer, he said he had to research how to raise a fawn. He learned that he needed to feed it every four hours and clean it after every feeding.
On top of that, he wanted to make sure its injured leg would heal, so he fashioned a brace for it out of an oatmeal box, and she was quickly becoming a part of his family.
“[For the] first week, she slept by my bed on my shirt,” he said. “She had to have it to be able to sleep.”
Sasnauskas’ colleague’s Bernese mountain dog Mack became the deer’s foster dad during the next two weeks, never letting her out of his sight and always making sure to lick her clean during feedings.
Although they clearly had bonded, Sasnauskas knew it would be best for the fawn to be reintegrated into the wild with a deer family.
For several nights, he brought the fawn to an open field and laid low as other deer watched the fawn from afar. But the baby deer would not leave his side and would lick his hands and face and trot alongside him as he walked away.
Eventually, Sasnauskas says the fawn’s mother re-appeared and the fawn was released back into the wild.
He said he still sees the fawn and her family quite often because the deer rarely leave a safe area.
“It is [a] very, very good feeling seeing them safe [and] roaming around,” he said.
I didn’t expect my “baby deer” video to become so popular. I’m glad that so many people are present with love for our animals and nature!
— Darius Sa (@honeysada) October 25, 2015