ABILENE, Texas - According to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, six stray donkeys and two mules that had been turned out by their owners were all sold Wednesday morning.
A public auction was held Wednesday at the Taylor County Jail.
The six donkeys sold for a total price of $345. The two mules sold for a total of $30.
After feed costs were deducted, $133.98 will be deposited into the county clerk's account to be held for refunding to the original owner if he or she is ever identified.
The sheriff's office said the feed cost for the mules totaled at $70.34; the county suffered a loss of $40.34 after the sale.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office is dealing with more livestock being turned out by its owners.
Right now, the county is in possession of six donkeys and two mules and they need somewhere to go.
On Dec. 11, officers picked up the donkeys between Abilene and Tye. Then almost a week later, they picked up the mules near Merkel.
The donkeys and mules are currently taking up residence at the Taylor County Jail.
Turning out is when people set their livestock free to someone else to claim.
"You have some form of livestock and you're unable to care for them anymore for whatever reason, so basically, you just open the gate and let them go free to be claimed by someone else," said Lt. John Cummins of the Taylor County Sheriff's Office.
This is an expensive problem for the sheriff's department because they have to foot the bill for feeding and housing the stray animals.
"It's the tax payer money that's paying to feed these animals and then that money is just gone when it's all said and done," Cummins said.
The cost to feed these animals is about $500 a month.
Not only is turning out expensive for the county, but it's also illegal.
According to Texas Agriculture Code, a person commits an offense if they turn out animals that aren't allowed to run at large on land that doesn't belong to them.
It's also a crime if a livestock owner fails or refuses to keep an animal from running at large or they allow an animal to trespass.
Turning out is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by a fine.
"It's a losing proposition for counties when they have animals like these with very little value," Cummins said.
While there is money in the budget for stray animals, if it continues at this rate, the sheriff's office said they'll have to ask for more money from the county commissioners.
There will be a public auction Wednesday for those donkeys and mules.
It'll be at 10 a.m. at the west fence of the Taylor County Jail located at 910 S. 27th St.
There is no minimum to bid; they'll take whatever you can give.
If the animals aren't sold, they'll be donated to non-profit organizations.