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Wandering Burros Cross the Road to Find Friends and A New Home

In late summer the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch received a call about two burros found wandering a country road in East Texas. It seems as though these burros were reported loose, and the police had been called to find their home. The officers went door-to-door looking for the burros’ owner, but none of the residents claimed the burros. When police knocked on the door of the Rhodes’ residence, the fate of the homeless burros changed forever.

Brenda Rhodes happened to be visiting her grandmother in Emory, Texas. When the police inquired about the burros, Brenda immediately decided to go have a look at them. One, a female, was missing all of her fur, had scabs on her head and body, and was emaciated. The other, a chocolate brown male, had his full coat, but abrasions and scabs similarly covered his body. It was unclear how long the pair had been in the blazing heat without food or water. Brenda tried to coax them to her, but they did not cooperate.

The following day, the burros had wandered off again and could not be found. Eventually they were discovered on a neighbor’s property. Brenda and five others cornered the two animals, put halters on their chests, and led them to a stable on the Rhodes residence, where Brenda gave them food and water.

The Rhodes family were happy to take care of the burros but knew the situation had to be temporary as they were at maximum capacity already caring for a burro and five horses. Brenda contacted the ranch early the following week to inquire about a permanent home for the pair. The burros were soon picked up by ranch staff and brought to the sanctuary. A veterinary exam indicated that both burros had a fungal infection, and the female’s legs were also swollen. The burros were immediately bathed, medicated and placed in an isolation stall to recuperate.

Though initially weak, the female, whose new name is Frances, is gaining strength; the male, now called Freckles, is responding very well to the treatment and is proving to be a friendly chap. Both receive medicated baths twice weekly and are eating well, hopefully an indication of their improved health.

If Brenda and her grandmother had not been there to take the burros off the road and into their hearts, it is likely the police would have turned the burros over to the local auction house. In their deteriorated condition, no one would have been interested in purchasing them, and they probably would have been sent to the slaughter plant.

Ranch staff suspect that the drought in East Texas may have led the unidentified owner to turn the burros loose. With pastures drying up providing no grasslands for grazing, livestock must now be fed costly hay. Someone may have just taken the easy way out and simply set the burros “free.” However, this freedom nearly cost them their lives. Fortunately, their path crossed that of the Rhodes family, whose compassion and care for the animals ended their hunger and suffering.

Burros are special creatures, especially at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, where burros airlifted from the depths of the Grand Canyon were the first animals to call the ranch home. Frances and Freckles now have a permanent home and care for life, where the only road they need to travel on is one toward the pasture where their fellow burros wait to welcome them.

posted September 26, 2006