By SAMANTHA SCOLES
News Managing Editor
MOUNT VERNON — Trooper, Patch and their four raccoon friends will live out the rest of their days on Carol Deyo and Andy Black’s farm as a result of a settlement agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Deyo signed late Monday afternoon.
The agreement dismisses the criminal charges filed against Deyo for keeping the six animals and allows her to continue to raise them on her farm. In turn, Deyo agrees to not take in any other wild animals and will drop her request for a Chapter 119 hearing which is pending with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
According to Deyo’s attorney, Phillip Lehmkuhl, the hearings were in response to the state’s denial to issue her a permit for the animals. When a denial is issued, Lehmkuhl said the appeal step goes to common pleas court either in Franklin County or the petitioner’s county of residence.
“This is what I asked for in the beginning,” Deyo told the News as she signed the agreement. “That’s all right — we got it done.”
The charges of harboring wild animals were filed against Deyo in January, as a result of an investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Mount Vernon Municipal Court.
Lehmkuhl told the News he got a call “out of the blue” on Friday stating ODNR was willing to negotiate.
“The department of natural resources wanted to get this worked out,” said Chip McConville, city prosecutor.
The rest, they say, is history.
“The state of Ohio has abandoned its effort to take two injured deer and four orphaned raccoons from Carol Deyo, and they may remain in the care of the woman who saved their lives and gave them a safe home. Love and compassion have triumphed,” stated a release issued by Lehmkuhl. “Carol Deyo risked jail to save these animals, and 15,000 good people stood by her side, by signing petitions to Gov. (John) Kasich. They knew: If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Deyo told the News she plans to use the animals as a learning tool for children and adults.
“We want to use them to educate about humanity, compassion and the will to live,” Deyo said. “We also want to encourage children and adults with disabilities that they can make it with will and strength.”
When Deyo first reached out to the public to tell the story of her animals, she had no idea how much support she would find.
“You have no idea how awesome this is,” Deyo said. “I never dreamed so many people would come and support us.”
Deyo took Trooper in after his leg was cut off in a mowing accident. The former vet tech sewed up the wound and nursed him back to health. Patch was brought to Deyo by people who found him under a vehicle in Mount Vernon.
He too was nursed back to health by Deyo. The four raccoons were rescued from a water drain.