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Hundreds of donkeys abandoned in lingering drought

Gerald Herbert / AP

Keith Gantt feeds abandoned donkeys he recovered, in Athens, La., Friday, March 16, 2012. Prolonged drought in the southern plains coupled with the nation's economic slump has taken a heavy toll on the humble donkey. Across east Texas and north Louisiana, farmers whose grazing land has dried up have sold off herds of cattle, putting livestock-tending donkeys out of work and making it too expensive to keep those bought as pets or for other reasons. In the north Louisiana town of Athens, Keith Gantt, who rounds up loose livestock for the Claiborne Parish Sheriff's Office, has hundreds of donkeys he can't give away. He's had some for two years.

AP reports:

With pastures withered from a lingering drought, farmers in Texas and northwest Louisiana have abandoned donkeys by the hundreds, turning them into wandering refugees that have severely tested animal rescue groups.

The nation's biggest donkey rescue group says that since March 2011, it has taken in nearly 800 donkeys abandoned in Texas, where ranchers mainly used the animals to guard their herds. Many of the cattle and goats have been sold off, largely because of the drought and the nation's economic slump, putting the donkeys out of a job. Continue reading.

Gerald Herbert / AP

Abandoned donkeys recovered by Keith Gantt and his wife Karla Gantt are seen in Athens, La., Friday, March 16, 2012.

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