Texas Group Gains Custody of Seized Donkeys, Horses

Allegedly maltreated animals recently removed from a Texas ranch will be moving to new homes now that a Fannin County judge has put them in Habitat for Horses custody.

Fannin County police and Habitat for Horses investigators removed nine allegedly malnourished Miniature Donkeys and seven horses from a Leonard ranch last month after discovering the carcasses of at least 22 Miniature Donkeys and three horses on the property. One mare was euthanized shortly after the seizure. Habit for Horses has been providing rehabilitative care for the surviving animals.

On Thursday, Judge Joseph Dale awarded the agency custody of the animals.

The donkeys will move on to adoptive homes immediately. The horses will remain in foster homes pending their adoption, said Habitat for Horses President Jerry Finch.

"All the animals are in improving health," he said.

The animals' former owner Gilbert Lee Epperson was charged with one count of class A misdemeanor cruelty to animals. Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser said additional charges could be pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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