Cash-strapped donkey owners in Texas are abandoning the animals in record numbers, creating a headache for authorities and a devoted group of donkey rescuers, the Houston Chronicle reports. Authorities say dire drought and high feed costs are making donkeys, like horses, much harder to keep. "Donkey rescues have gone through the roof," says Mark Meyers, the head of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, which has taken in some 500 donkeys since March.
Another problem: People buy donkeys thinking they will be fun but don't realize the costs involved, one expert says. A single bale of hay can cost $125, double last year's price, and long-term donkey care runs around $1,000. Now many owners can't draw an auction price that pays for the blood test required for sale. "You can't sell them or give them away and you can't feed them, so you're stuck," Meyers says. "They're just releasing them on someone else's property."