Memorial to pay tribute to Snow the white deer

Snow — Crown Point’s renowned white deer — will be remembered Sunday in a memorial at Crown Point United Methodist Church.

The memorial stems from the outpouring of grief and concern over the female deer, who was euthanized on April 1 after it was determined the injuries sustained when she was hit by a car were too severe for her to be released back in the wild. Another contributing factor was the absence of a large wildlife rescue able to care for an adult deer.

As a resident of south Crown Point, the Rev. Mark Wilken said he saw Snow a couple of times over the years and — like so many others — he was saddened to learn of her death.

“When I first heard the deer was hit and euthanized, I just saw this outpouring of really genuine grief from people. People are hurting over this,” Wilkins said.

Indeed, commenters on Facebook sought solace in sharing memories of the beloved white deer and seeking advice on how to cope what the loss or make something positive come out of the tragedy.

Wilkins decided if the church wants to care about Crown Point, it needs to be the place to give voice to those sentiments.

First United Methodist originally had a pet blessing service planned for Sunday, so it made sense to tie to the two events together. The memorial for Snow begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Crown Point, followed by a pet blessing at 1:30 p.m.

A simple memorial of a deer statue and plaque will be erected in the church’s memorial garden.

“We will have public time together. The Mayor (Pete Land) is going to speak. I’m going to speak. We invite anybody and everybody who was affected to come and be a part of that,” Wilkins said.

There is no charge to attend the event. Any donations will go to a group working to bring a pet rescue to the city.

“You talk with these people there is a very genuine grief here. On top of that, this deer kind of made us a community. A community is not made by geographic proximity, it’s made by what connects us. For so many people, this deer connected us. It was a warm, gentle bright spot for a lot of people. That bears honor anyway,” Wilkins said.

Dr. Kate Hodson, an equine veterinarian with a practice in Hebron, tended to Snow after she was struck, assisting Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Alex Neel. Jasper County Animal Control Director Tori Nuest helped tranquilize Snow.

Hodson said everything possible was done to save the beloved deer, but her injuries were too grave for her to live a normal life without suffering. Snow was an 8-year-old deer who was overweight and generally unafraid of humans.

While she was comfortable around humans, she was still a wild animal with the fight or flight reflex, meaning much care was taken in sedating her for potential treatment, Hodson said. If she were able to recover, Hodson said she would not have been able to be released back into Crown Point since she was slightly domesticated.

“Deer are actually pretty competitive. With her being white, it would be difficult,” Hodson said. They were unable to find a wildlife sanctuary facility able to house an adult deer instead of a fawn.

Staying close to people and well within the city probably helped contribute to her longevity given the attention her color draws in nature.

“She belonged to no one, but she belonged to everyone in town,” Hodson said. The heartbreak people are feeling is real.

“Everybody knew her…It kind of is nice and reassuring there are people that actually really care,” Hodson said.

Hodson said fortunately, though Snow was a bit overweight for a deer, she was still small enough to be able to be cremated. She said the effort to cremate Snow had to be done by the books since she is a wild animal. It took Neel a day and a half to get the permitting necessary to move Snow to Faithful Companions Pet Crematory.

“They were amazing. They made a nice wood urn and engraved her name,” Hodson said.

She said everybody in the area knew the white deer and many had their own nicknames for Snow. The deer brought people together, she said.

“I think she served her purpose. I think that’s why God put her in this world. It wasn’t to be a white deer and stand out. It’s to show people do still have compassion in a world so cold that we see every day,” Hodson said.