Lost livestock a growing problem for Angelina Co.

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Lost dog or lost donkey, a stray is stray in the eyes of Angelina County. But the bigger the animal, the bigger the problem for animal control. That's because state law requires one month of care for all animals.

"A lot of times we never find out who owns them," said Melanie Wade, the Angelina County animal control officer.

Wade is talking about lost livestock: cows, horses, pigs, goats and donkeys.

"People driving to work, on their way home, they're running loose on the highways, side of the road," she said. "People almost hit them."

It's Wade's job to pick them up and to get them to a safe place.

"We call our county stockman," she said. "Sometimes he's able to catch them and sometimes by the time he gets there, they're not there anymore."

Livestock on the loose is becoming a big problem.

"It has been a steady increase," she said. "It seems to be at least one or two a week that we get a call."

Wade believes it's another sign of a hurting economy.

"They don't realize how expensive horses are," she said. "Dogs and cats, they are a lot cheaper than your larger animals. The vet bills on horse are outrageous."

The county was recently dispatched to Old Bonner Road. Now they're in possession of 11 donkeys, all being fed and housed on the taxpayer's dime."

Boarding costs, plus vet tests add up to 245 bucks a month per animal.

State law requires the animals to be kept for at least a month.

During that time, few owners come forward. In fact, it's a rarity according to sheriff's Deputy Randy Ware.

"Normally I don't have any of them re-claimed," Ware said.

"If we try to sell them I get lucky," Wade said. "Sometimes a dollar, five dollars, ten dollars for these animals. We go in the hole every month. Because of what we feed them everyday."

What if rescue groups are full and can't help out?

"Then what?" Wade said. "I don't know. I think we'll have to put them down."

He says it's a terrible ending to a problem that isn't going away anytime soon.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.