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You’ve heard about firefighters in small towns saving cats from trees.

But the Sweet Home Police Department went a bit wild with the concept of helping critters. An officer saved a “baby” deer trapped in an elementary school playground on Saturday.

Authorities received a 9-1-1 call at about 1:57 p.m. Saturday about a deer stuck in the playground at Oak Heights Elementary School, 605 Elm St. The woodland creature had smashed its face up from hitting the fence, the caller said, according to police logs.

“It had to have jumped the fence to get in. I’m not sure why it couldn’t jump the fence to get out,” said Sgt. Jason Van Eck.

Officer Gerrit Southard, who has been with the department for nearly four years, arrived and disassembled a section of the fence and the deer was able to get out. Southard fixed the fence before leaving to handle other calls, Van Eck said.

Josh Dargis, Oak Heights principal, laughed that the police department’s response would happen “only in Sweet Home.”

“We have a forest area up behind our school, but we have a six-foot fence surrounding our entire playground area. It’s surprising that any kind of deer, and especially a baby deer, could get into that area,” Dargis said.

The fence gate can quickly be moved off its hinge, as the school property is used for RV parking during the Oregon Jamboree, and Dargis thought that’s how Southard helped the deer escape.

“I will tell you that I’m really happy this happened on the weekend,” Dargis said. Young children tend to get excited when animals are around, after all.

“When there’s a dog within a block of the school, there’s chaos,” Dargis said. “It’s like they’ve never seen one before.”

Kyle Odegard can be reached at, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.


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