PALM COAST, Fla. - A man in Palm Coast is mourning the death of his pet deer.
It was put down two weeks ago after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said it attacked a man in a nearby yard, but Michael Hansen said the way it was euthanized was inhumane.
Hansen wasn't ready to speak with FOX 35 for our stories last week. He said Wednesday he hadn't gotten a full night's sleep in two weeks.
"Every morning I’d go out and have coffee with him," Hansen said. "He’d be in the house laying on the couch. I’d leave my sliding glass door open."
Hansen said he rescued the deer 18 months ago after its mother died giving birth. He said he didn't keep the deer captive, and it was free to roam. He named it Baboo.
"He played right here while we washed cars," Hansen said. "He’d kick the ball out here with us. It’s horrific."
In body camera video, officers are seen to have slit the deer's throat after tying it up to a telephone pole. The deer is then shot and killed after minutes
"Seemed like he was very friendly because he wasn’t afraid of us," a Flagler County sheriff's deputy said on camera. "Makes me wonder if wanted not to attack but play."
"That’s Baboo," Hansen said. "He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. And once you had him down…euthanize him if you want to, but do it with a needle or just relocate him for God’s sakes."
FWC said the deer's throat was cut before it was shot to preserve its brain for disease testing.
Hansen was not home when the alleged attack happened and arrived shortly after Baboo was killed. He recorded his encounter with an FWC officer who explained why Baboo was put down.
"When something like this happens, now we have to put it down because it’s obviously adjusting to people feeding it," the FWC officer said.
On its website, FWC says "animals from the wild (including injured, orphaned, or abandoned native animals) are NEVER eligible to be kept as personal pets in Florida."
"People raise all sorts—you can Google how many people have deer right now in the United States and they’ll show up. Bottom line is if you’re treating it like a dog or anything. If a bulldog did that to somebody you would not cut its throat and let it suffer."
Pictures show the 71-year-old man’s injuries to his hand and leg after the alleged attack. He declined an interview but told us he’s recovering well.
Hansen wiped away tears when he said Baboo's death was like losing a member of his family.
"This isn’t like a pain cry," Hansen said. "This is internal pain. I never thought I’d experience something like this. That’s how special he was to this family."
This week, neighbors set up a GoFundMe page for a Baboo memorial on a vacant lot nearby.