The fawn’s name is Lazareth and when you hear its story, it’s easy to understand why.
A few days ago, the deer was destined to be put down. It had been born with deformities and abandoned by its mother. Unable to walk on its own, the fawn was doomed to certain death. If some well-meaning human didn’t end its life, a bigger animal surely would.
Enter Karen Hawkins. She knows wildlife and, more importantly, how to get things done.
“She’s amazing,” said Gary M. Yackley of New England Brace Co. in Lewiston. “She’s such a nice lady. She’s a delight to be around.”
Lazareth thought so to.
This week, because of Hawkins’ involvement, the fawn is getting around on three professionally designed prostheses, the result of work by Yackley and Dr. Todd Gauger of the Norway Veterinary Hospital.
“The deer was able to get up on its own,” said Yackley, who designed the prosthetics and fitted them Tuesday night. “He wasn’t able to do that before.”
Yackley has provided such devices for humans and for dogs. Lazareth was his first deer. The story was so unusual and successful, he thought the world should know about it. He contacted the press.
Hawkins, on the other hand, goes about her work quietly. At her farm in Bridgton, she keeps chickens and rabbits, alpacas and horses. She even has a monkey named Mookie. And some skunks.
“A lot of those animals were going to be destroyed,” Yackley said.
Hawkins, who also designs websites, has been caring for animals on her farm since 1978. She has the proper permits and she’s hoping to be granted an exhibition permit, which will allow her to keep Lazareth for more than six months.
She was reluctant to talk about the rescue of the fawn, preferring to deflect credit to Gauger and Yackley.
“They’ve been absolutely marvelous,” she said. “So many people have played a part in this.”
It began in May when a woman in Limington called Hawkins for help and advice. There was a baby deer on her property and the mother was nowhere in sight. When Hawkins got a chance to examine the fawn for herself, she understood the sad truth — the deer was deformed and unable to care for itself. Those problems would have created too many difficulties for the mother, so she left the fawn to die.
Hawkins needed to find someone who could help the fawn with its mobility problems. Inspiration struck. She knew a fellow with a prosthetic leg and simply asked him where he got it. That led her to Yackley, who was as impressed with Hawkins’ commitment to the deer as he was with the unusual nature of the work at hand.
“I really wanted to do my best for her,” he said.
So he contacted Gauger, who performed surgery to ready Lazareth for the prosthetics. Molds were prepared in order to make new legs.
Yackley went to Hawkins’ home and fit the prosthetics onto Lazareth’s legs. It was a good fit. Now the fawn is expected to get around better while it recovers with Hawkins.
It couldn’t be in better hands, as far as Yackley is concerned. Not only is Hawkins able to care for an animal physically, she knows when a creature is upset, relying on a sense of smell that reveals an animal’s emotional state.
“She’s no dummy,” Yackley said. “She’s been around. She’s totally knowledgeable. She is a true Maine country woman living life her way.”
Hawkins’ dedication to her animals is unquestionable. Yackley and Gauger also donated all of their time to the cause. As far as luck goes, Lazareth’s seems to be swinging the other way.
The fawn is not the only one who got something out of the experience.
“It was just so neat to be able to do something like this,” Yackley said. “This was fun for me.”
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