Drought leads to donkey ditchin' - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Drought leads to donkey ditchin'

By Jamey Boyum

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Donkeys are becoming a problem. Because of the drought, some farmers can't afford to feed them, so they are just letting them go.

In Van Zandt County several donkeys are rounded up every week, and Sheriff Pat Burnette then has to find a place to put them.

But, it's not just an East Texas problem, its state wide.

Historically, donkeys have been used by farmers to help protect their cattle from predators, or as pets. But, with ponds drying out, and a shortage of hay in the area donkeys have become one more mouth to feed.

Sheriff Burnette says, "Any time you turn something out, there's a chance of getting hit, or hurt."

Sometimes they end up on a road.

Sheriff Burnette says donkeys can't even be given away at sale barns. No one wants them.

"We took 17 strays up to the SPCA in Mckinney. Since then we've had maybe 15 or 20 go to Dublin, to the Donkey Rescue. I haven't got the money to keep them. So, as a last resort I asked the Court Commissioners permission to euthanize. Since that time, people have come out of the woodwork," says Burnette.

People like Bob Anderson who runs Hearts Afire Deer Rescue. He's taken in five donkeys to hold them the required 18 days to give the owner a chance to reclaim them. He says there are other problems with letting farm animals loose.

"We also worry about things like getting wild donkey populations going, and it ends up being something like our pig problem here," he said.

The five donkeys cost him around 70 dollars a week.  He says he'll take care of the animals until he can't get any more hay.

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