An unfortunate encounter with an injured deer near an off-leash dog park in Lethbridge’s Peenaquim Park ended with two women and their dogs in the Oldman River and in need of rescue.

On Wednesday, at approximately noon, Constable Denton Michelson of the Lethbridge Police Service responded to the park following a report indicating dogs were attacking a deer.

“We got a call of animals in distress and, really, a deer that seemed to be somewhat injured in the river in the area of Peenaquim Park, just off the off-leash dog park area,” said Staff Sergeant Jim Fisher. “There were two sets of dog owners, both with two dogs, and the four dogs were attacking this deer and had made their way into the river.”

The owners of the dogs had attempted to restrain their animals but the four dogs broke free and proceeded to attack the deer.

According to Fisher, the owners had entered the river in an attempt to separate their dogs from the wild animal but they battled a strong current and cold water temperature. Cst. Michelson, a 15 year veteran, arrived and helped one of the dog owners to shore before entering the river and making his way to the second owner who had been swept away into deeper water along with her dogs. The officer helped the owner and her dogs out of the chest deep water and back to dry land.

“It was pretty chilly waters and obviously pretty dangerous,” said S/Sgt. Fisher.

An assessment of the owners and their dogs revealed they had suffered no injuries as a result of their time in the frigid water.

The injured deer made its way out of the water on its own. S/Sgt. Fisher says officers went to check on the welfare of the deer a short time later and an injured deer was located and euthanized. Police cannot confirm if the euthanized animal was the one that had been attacked by the dogs.

The owners of the dogs will not be charged in connection with the incident. “(There was) no malice on anybody’s part just really an unfortunate set of circumstances,” said Fisher. “With these dog owners, they love animals not just their dogs, and they were really trying to do well by both their dogs and the deer.”

“We’re certainly not blaming anyone here but you want to exercise as much control of your animal as possible.”

With files from CTV Lethbridge’s Terry Vogt