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Beloved deer remembered as ‘faithful friend’

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KANSAS CITY, M0. -- More than 36,000 people are buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri, and, Saturday the first deer was laid to rest at the cemetery near East Truman and VanBrunt.

"She had so much courage. I'm really glad I got a chance to meet her four times," said eight-year-old Atticus Straley with a big smile.

"I just wish that she was alive to this day," Straley told Fox 4 News.

Straley was just one of more than 200 people who took time to remember "Ella," a sweet-spirited, bright-eyed doe born more than two years ago at the cemetery.

"She could let anybody get close to her and pet her. I really liked her, " said nine-year- old Ana Davis.

Ella's mother was killed several months after Ella was born while crossing a busy, nearby road.  Cemetery trustees say as a result, Ella made Elmwood her home.

The deer, whose cemetery companion was Moxie, a golden Labrador, became a popular tourist attraction, made a lot of friends and touched hearts along the way.  But, on August 4, 19-year-old Phoenix Vankirk told the Missouri Department of Conservation that he shot the deer while attempting to use it to feed his family.

Vankirk was cited for taking the deer out of season, which is punishable by a fine of up to $275

"I'm angry at that person who shot her, because she was really nice," Davis said.

"Other deer would come and go, but Ella stayed here because she was born here. This was the only home that she ever knew. We all love and miss her, " said Bruce Mathews, a cemetery trustee.

On Saturday morning a huge crowd of admirers of all ages, returned to the cemetery to remember Ella and "to pay tribute to a faithful friend," many of the attendees told FOX 4 News.

Seven children from the Great Plains SPCA sang a song for Ella, posted their sympathy cards and one very touching moment came when the boys and girls carried Ella's urn to her grave site right beside the deer's favorite tree.

"She's going to be missed dearly by so many people. She taught us so much and I hope people think about how these little guys, these animals are a blessing to all of us," said Sharon Spero as she tried to hold back tears.

"I think Ella is now with all the other deer in heaven, " Davis said as she smiled.

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