Family’s nightmare as popular pet, Rudie the deer, killed

Miranda Petts with three-legged pet deer Rudie

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Original article – It’s been two months since Miranda Petts’ deer Rudie was allegedly shot and killed by a hunter.

The pain hasn’t gotten any easier for his family in those two months.

Or for the many supporters who have been following the much-loved, three-legged pet’s story for years.

Miranda tells Animal Friendly Life about the pain of losing Rudie, his legacy, and their fight for justice.

The night Rudie was taken

In early August, Miranda received a frantic phone call from her mother, telling her their pet deer Rudie had been killed.

Miranda’s mum had found blood in the empty paddock that morning, and there was no sign of Rudie.

“I broke down on the phone and then went straight out the farm to see Rudie,” recalls Miranda.

“On the phone Mum told me that Rudie was “shot and gone”; I thought she meant he his body was still at the farm.

“When I got there, I broke down as I realised he was really gone; it was horrific to see the blood.

“I realised he had been shot and taken, and it broke me not being able to say my final goodbye to a friend who had done so much for me.”

Miranda Petts and a baby Rudie, the deer who was shot and killed
Miranda and Rudie shared a special bond (image supplied)

Rudie’s life and legacy

Rudie was with Miranda’s family for eight years, after her family took him in as a baby.

He lost a leg in a farming accident but was lucky to have met Miranda, who took him in.

Miranda and Rudie shared a very special bond.

“Rudie was very special to our family,” says Miranda.

“From the very start he fit right in; he just adored people and any animal that he met.

“Not only did he need me to survive over the last eight years, but I needed him,” she says.

“He was there for me in some very dark days.

“Rudie was just so cheeky and loved jumping up for a snuggle on the bed or couch.”

Pet deer rudie dissapeared and being investigated by NSW Police
Rudie (image: Instagram)

And Rudie even put himself into his own bed at night when he was little.

“At 8pm every night he would hop down the hallway and go to bed in his crate in the laundry.”

It was his bravery; how he learnt to run with three legs while living a happy life, that captivated people.

Miranda, Rudie’s owner

Part of the pack

Growing up in a household of pets and farm animals didn’t deter Rudie.

“He grew up with our two border collies, a kelpie, as well as our sheep and alpacas.

“He would often play ball with the dogs and would run around chasing them.”

One of the dogs, Keira, acts as his mum, and a video of the two of them soon was viral.

“We fell in love with him, and then the world did when the video of him and Keira went viral.

“It was his bravery; how he learnt to run with three legs while living a happy life, that captivated people.

And Rudie had amassed quite the following over recent years.

His Instagram account had close to 19,000 followers at the time of his death.

Rudie’s story gained the attention of mainstream media too, with outlets sharing the journey of the three-legged deer and his human family

Rudie the deer with owner Miranda Petts
Miranda and Rudie (image supplied)

Police investigate Rudie’s death

Rudie’s death now makes him famous for all the wrong reasons.

On the morning he disappeared, police were at the property searching for answers – still, no one knew where Rudie was.

“About 7am today (Monday 7 August 2023), a 31-year-old woman contacted Albury Police Station after noticing her pet deer, named Rudie, was missing from a paddock in Wirlinga,” NSW Police said in its first statement after Rudie went missing.

“Officers from Murray River Police District commenced inquiries; during a search of the area, blood was located in the paddock.”

Police quickly learnt that a car was driving next to the remote property that night.

It was only a couple of days before Miranda and her family learnt what had happened to Rudie.

Police allege Rudie was killed by a hunter who was shooting animals on the neighbouring property.

A man was charged two days after Rudie’s death, with police also alleging he disposed of Rudie’s body.

“A 49-year-old man attended Albury Police Station and was charged with stock theft, fire firearm into building or onto enclosed lands, and enter enclosed land not prescribed premises without lawful excuse.”

The NSW Police media release

The hunter is local man Scott Craig who last week plead not guilty to his charges at Albury Local Court.

While Miranda can’t say much right now, she says the most distressing part was after the shooting.

“(what allegedly happened to Rudie) is not ok,” she states.

“I would love him to just plead guilty.

“We were hoping for that at last week’s appearance so that we can move on and heal.

“Rudie doesn’t deserve this; he deserves justice for all he has done and for everyone he has inspired.”

Rudie the deer being pat by a man and child before he was killed
Miranda’s family is heartbroken at Rudie’s death (image supplied)

Miranda’s ongoing fight for animals like Rudie

Miranda now uses her heartache to not only fight for justice for Rudie, but to help animals like him.

She is making t-shirts that will available online in the next few weeks with the simple, poignant message #justiceforRudie.

 “We will put the money towards helping other animals like Rudie and to raise awareness,” says Miranda.

Miranda aims to have Rudie’s supporters wear and photograph themselves in the Justice for Rudie t-shirts.

“We hope the Justice for Rudie t-shirts will be worn around the world by all of his followers.

“We went Rudie’s story all over social media, over the news, around the world.

“Just everywhere, to show the impact he has made on so many people’s lives.”

For updates on purchasing the t-Shirt and merchandise, or to make a donation to Rudie’s Rescue,  follow @rudiethereindeer on Instagram.

Scott Craig is next due to appear in court on 8 November (two days before Miranda’s planned wedding).

We will continue to update our readers on the case. 

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