Man arrested for dragging donkey

SPLENDORA, Texas - A Splendora man was arrested for dragging a donkey with a rope tied to the trailer hitch of his SUV and leaving it severely injured on the side of the road, officials said Friday.

Livestock Deputy Constable Dwayne Morrow arrested Marc Richard Saunders, 30, on Thursday evening and charged him with state jail felony animal cruelty. 

According to reports, Saunders and another man found a friend's pet donkey, Susie Q, wandering loose on Acorn Hill Drive. Though the friend was going to get Susie Q and walk her home, Saunders insisted on leading the donkey back with her tied to the trailer hitch.

At first Saunders drove slowly, the other man said -- who was riding on the open tailgate of Saunders' truck -- and Susie Q was able to keep up.  But then Saunders sped up, and the donkey sat down, straightening her front legs to try and stop.

Despite yelling and pleading protests, the man said Saunders told him it was "fine."  Saunders continued to drive on and increase his speed to around 40 mph, even when Susie Q fell over on her side.  Saunders dragged the donkey approximately one-quarter mile down the road before stopping.

When he saw the bleeding donkey--which had 1.5 to 2 inches ground off her hooves, exposing flesh and bone--Saunders unhooked her rope and fled the scene.

A witness reported the incident, and Deputy Morrow took Saunders into custody.

"Fortunately, this extreme animal abuse was an unusual case," Morrow said.  "But we do respond to abuse calls and neglect calls regularly, as well as the frequent traffic hazard calls when large animals get out on the road and are a danger to themselves and drivers."

A veterinarian treated the donkey at the scene and took her for further treatment on a makeshift sled, as the donkey was unable to walk. 

"She's doing a lot better than she was," owner Rachel Johnson said. "Everybody knows how I feel about my donkey. I talk about my donkey all the time."

Johnson said Susie Q escaped from their yard and Saunders, a long-time family friend, volunteered to bring her home.

Morrow said that while some animal cruelty charges are misdemeanors, Saunders' charge was raised to the felony level based on evidence that he knowingly and intentionally injured the donkey.

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