Carrie Rengers

Garvey Center ‘deer whisperer’ saves deer from parking garage

Garvey Center manager Larry Weber figured this photo of a deer in the center’s parking garage had to be Photoshopped.
Garvey Center manager Larry Weber figured this photo of a deer in the center’s parking garage had to be Photoshopped. Courtesy photo

Garvey Center manager Larry Weber was certain someone was pranking him on Saturday when he received a call that a deer was on the fourth floor of the complex’s parking garage near Douglas and Water.

Weber knew it had to be a joke, because to get to the top of the four-story garage is not as simple as walking up some ramps.

It’s a horseshoe-shaped garage, so you have to go up one ramp, then cross to the other side of the garage to get up the next ramp and repeat the movement a few more times to go all the way.

Then, however, Weber received a photo of the deer.

“I expected to get a picture of a Rudolph staged deer up there that somebody found in the trash or something like that,” Weber says.

“I said, ‘Man, they got that thing to look real.’ ”

Then he saw a close-up of the deer and suspected some Photoshopping.

He asked the center’s gardener, Pat Fowler, to check to see whether there actually was a deer.

“Sure enough, there’s a deer in the garage,” Weber says. “What would make it want to keep walking up a ramp and then switching over?”

The concern then became how to get the deer out. Weber didn’t want to frighten the deer in case it tried to jump the rails of the garage.

“It seemed like it was going to do that,” Fowler says. “It just ran from one side of the garage to another looking over the edge. … It was just freaking out because it was stuck and couldn’t get out of there.”

Fowler has a lot of experience with animals, such as racoons, possums, rabbits and squirrels, which have all gotten into the garage.

She also has three pet ducks – Jack and Pretty Boy, who are blind, and Bob, who is their seeing-eye duck – who live on the property.

“Every morning she walks them out to a fountain,” Weber says. “She’s really an amazing person with animals.”

The long list of animals now includes deer.

Fowler sat in the middle of the garage and spoke to the deer until it calmed down.

She learned the technique when volunteering at the Kansas Humane Society.

“You make yourself small, and they feel less threatened.”

Fowler then stood and guided the deer down and out of the garage.

“The deer had to be pretty intelligent, because I pointed the way I wanted it to go … and it went that way,” she says.

“She was able to just kind of gently show which way to go,” Weber says. “The deer just started responding to her. … Isn’t that something?”

A police officer who works for the center also helped and watched the deer retreat to the river once it left the garage.

Skilled though Fowler may be with the animal kingdom, Weber does have one lingering concern.

“I just hope there’s no bears around.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers