Crofton firefighter deer rescue goes viral [video]

The Father’s Day rescue of a deer that was trapped in a Crofton yard has made headlines across the province

The Father’s Day rescue of a deer that was trapped in a Crofton yard has made headlines across the province and earned fans around the world for the local fire department.

“It’s something big that came out of a small thing,” Crofton fire chief Ken Rukus said.

Firefighters were conducting their weekly maintenance check at the fire hall last Sunday when they were summoned to a nearby backyard to see if they could do anything for a deer that had slipped into a tight crevice between a wooden fence and a rock retaining wall.

Rukus and firefighters Dennis Vadeboncoeur and Geoff Backman were able to tie some webbing around the deer’s forelegs and budge the fence aside just enough so slip the deer out to safety.

Either recognizing that it was being helped or perhaps just resigning itself to whatever fate awaited, the deer allowed the men to rescue it.

“It was pretty exhausted,” Rukus said. “It didn’t put up much of a fight when we started pulling it out.”

Once it was out and untied, the deer scrambled away. “It was quite nice to see it get up and take off like that,” Rukus said.

The backyard belongs to Crofton resident Brian Pankratz, who caught the procedure on video. When he first spotted the deer that morning, however, a heartwarming rescue wasn’t the first thing on his mind.

“My first thought was, ‘There’s the guy that’s been eating the flowers,’” Pankratz recalled. “‘Serves him right.’”

Pankratz’s compassionate side soon got the better of him, and he talked to a neighbour, who suggested contacting the fire department.

It all made for a pretty unique Father’s Day for Pankratz and his nine-year-old daughter, Ellie.

“She thinks it was pretty awesome,” Pankratz said. “All her little friends saw her on the news. I got reconnected with some old friends I hadn’t seen in 20 years. It’s been a fun experience.”

The video is now hosted on Facebook by ViralHog, a company that specializes in viral videos, and is racking up hundreds of thousands of views.

“It’s still fun because of all the views on Facebook,” Pankratz said. “It’s pretty fun to check in with that every once in a while. People are seeing it all around the world.”

Another benefit of the video is that it highlights the efforts and versatility of the volunteer firefighters.

“It showcases the talents of the firefighters and their dedication to serving the community,” Pankratz said.

The firefighters themselves were pleased to be part of such a positive development.

“It was great to see that happen,” Rukus said. “Our fire hall has had to go to some very bad calls over the years, so it was good to see something nice and not horrible.”

It didn’t take long for the deer to recover from the stress of the rescue and any injuries it may have sustained from slipping between the fence and the rocks. Just days later, Pankratz’s neighbour saw it in the yard again, eating the flowers, of course.

“He’s like all of us,” Pankratz said. “We seldom learn from our mistakes.”

kevin.rothbauer

@cowichanvalleycitizen.com