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‘There’s a deer in your house.’ How a doe became unlikely burglar of Lexington home

Lexington Herald-Leader logo Lexington Herald-Leader 3/20/2023 Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald-Leader

When a freak storm rolled through Fayette County on March 3 knocking out power to Abe Mashni’s south Lexington home, he and his family decamped to his parents’ home, which still had power.

Like thousands of Fayette County residents that weekend, Mashni waited for news about when the lights were going to come back on.

Instead, a neighbor called on March 5 with a message Mashni never expected to hear.

“I got a call from my neighbor — ‘You have to come home right now. There’s a deer in your house,’” Mashni said.

While the Mashni family, including their dog, was gone, a startled deer had busted through a window in the front of the Mashnis’ house.

Most of Shadeland East was without power. Sunday, March 5, was a nice day. Many people were outside and saw the hoofed burglar bust through the Mashni’s front window.

Lexington police were called and alerted Lexington-Fayette Animal Control officers.

“I called 911. I was freaking out,” Mashni said. “The lady on the phone told me that they already knew about the deer. I think they got several calls.”

Sgt. Aaron Evans of Lexington Animal Control said officers tried to get the deer out by opening doors of the Mashnis’ home.

Deer, however, “aren’t the sharpest tools in the drawer,” Evans said.

Distinguishing between glass and an open door is not a deer’s strength, she said. “They can’t see glass,” Evans said.

Instead, the deer, who spent about 25 minutes rampaging inside the Mashnis’ home, returned to the front of the home and jumped through a second window.

The bloodied and injured four-legged burglar then took off, evading police and animal control.

Sadly, the deer was eventually found across Tates Creek Road later that afternoon. It had apparently tried to jump a metal fence and impaled itself on a spike in the fence, according to police.

‘It looked like a murder scene’

When Mashni was able to enter his home, which he purchased only a year ago, he could suss out the doe’s path by following the blood splatter. The deer had cut itself when it busted through the first window.

“It was bad,” Mashni said of his home’s interior. “There was just blood everywhere.”

ServPro, a company that specializes in hazardous and tricky messes, including crime scenes, came to help clean up.

“The guy from ServPro told me it looked like a murder scene,” Mashni said. Streaks of blood were everywhere.

There is good news.

Mashni’s home insurance covered the cost of the clean up and replacing the windows.

But Mashni said he’s still baffled.

“My neighbor has lived there for decades and has never seen a deer in the neighborhood,” Mashni said.

As a criminal defense lawyer, Mashni said in a YouTube video he made about the event, that it’s not likely the deer could be charged with burglary.

Under Kentucky law for someone or be charged with burglary, they must knowingly enter and remain unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime.

Did the deer have intent?

“Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the deer’s intent,” Mashni said.

Lack of habitat, encroachment

Noelle Thompson is the deer program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

Thompson said it’s likely the deer was young and very confused.

“I would chalk this up to adrenaline and the ‘fight or flight’ response and not any type of disease or neurological disorder,” said Thompson. “Once they feel ‘caged’ (as it was after breaking into the home), it will do what it can to get out as quickly as possible, which gives reason for the second broken window during its escape.”

Deer populations in other states have been stricken with something called chronic wasting disease, a type of sickness that results in neurological problems and eventually death.

No such case has ever been reported in Kentucky, Thompson said.

“It is absolutely not a sign of chronic wasting disease (CWD),” Thompson said.

“CWD-infected deer become less responsive as the disease progresses and begin to lose their ability to function normally,” Thompson said. “It would not cause them to act like what you have described.”

The March 3 storms could have spooked the deer, she said.

Evans, of animal control, also said the doe was not diseased. It was in good health and agreed with Thompson that the storm could have confused the animal and its “fight or flight” mechanism kicked in.

Evans, who has worked for animal control for a decade, said deer forced entry into homes is rare but it happens.

“This is not the first time this has happened,” Evans said. “We’ve worked a couple of other calls similar to this. It’s more of a seasonal thing.”

However, Evans said as development erases natural habitats where deer and animals live, it has become a bit more common.

“We have more more wildlife in areas that they weren’t seen before because of encroachment,” Evans said. “This was a tragic situation. We are fortunate that no one was hurt.”

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