Upstate family remembers pet three-legged deer who was shot and - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate family remembers pet three-legged deer who was shot and killed

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Ruger after his leg was amputated last year (Source: Family) Ruger after his leg was amputated last year (Source: Family)
MARIETTA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Upstate's famous three-legged deer who took over the internet has died. His family said Ruger was shot and killed, and social media comments have been flooding in from total strangers.

Folks in Marietta started sharing their photos with Ruger, and said the three-legged deer was known to wander up searching for attention and of course some scraps.

The Whitesell family said Ruger might not have been the prettiest deer.

"He had multiple fish hooks stuck in his nose at one time," said Colby Whitesell.  

But they said he had character and a big personality.

"I left my car door open and look who was sleeping in the car,” said Owner Vet Whitesell. “I think he slept in there all night.”  

So much personality that he became part of the family, but looking back at pictures and memories is hard for the Whitesell's. Their walls are now covered with pictures of their dear friend.

"Every time I drove up he was waiting on cookies or a handout and he couldn't wait until I got stopped without him trying to get in the car with me," said grandmother Gail Roach.  

Roach said she remembers when Ruger was just a baby, and tears welled in her eyes as she talked about the special connection they shared.

"When we found out that he was shot and taken to the processor, it upset me so that I cried and cried,” Roach said.

She can hardly find the words. The family said Ruger was a fighter. He was abandoned as a baby and they bottle fed him back to health. Last year, the deer was shot in the hind leg and made another astonishing recovery after an amputation.

"I'd lay in there for an hour at a time and just hold him, his head in my lap,” Whitesell said. “So I think he knew."

Knew that he had found a family. The Whitesell's said he loved kids and Fletcher the dog. In fact, most days they said Ruger thought he was a dog.

As their days go on without Ruger, the family said their morning routine just isn't the same.

"In the mornings you'd wake up and he'd be there at the door wanting some dog food or just some scraps," Colby said.

"Sometimes I'd leave it cracked and the next thing I know he's in the house and he'd go straight to the bedroom and jump on the bed even with his three legs," Whitesell recalls.

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