As Weather Worsens, Dallas County Finds Itself With Stray Horses, Mules in Need of Homes

I know we had some fun earlier in the week with Dallas County's stash of for-sale gas masks, which has climbed to $50 since last we checked. But I see the county's also auctioning off quite a few donkeys, mules and horses -- all of which, says Dallas County Sheriff's Department Deputy Paul Stroud, were found wandering the county in recent weeks. Stroud says they come from all over: Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Garland, even North Dallas.

"Ross Perot's got some horses, and so do some of his neighbors," he says. "There's still a lot of livestock in Dallas County, a lot more than people think."

Which is what he's concerned about. The county auctions off strays occasionally, usually one or two at a time. But this year he's seen an uptick in loose animals. And he's concerned that this is but the beginning: "It'll get worse this year because it's so hot and there's no hay," he says. "I worry that a lot of people are gonna turn 'em out because they can't feed 'em."

It's Stroud's job to round up the animals when they're called in. He spends much of his day in the car, waiting for the ring. I reached him out on the road. When I asked how he was doing, he said, with a small laugh, "The sun's beatin' me down like a brick." But he's got no choice: "Strays are a danger, a road hazard, so when they get out in the roadway and if we don't get 'em, somebody's gonna get hurt."

He says most of the animals auctioned off usually sell, and if they don't they get back in line. Because he's not about to put 'em down. Matter of fact, he's spent quite a bit of time putting some meat on those horses you see above, who, he says, have actually gained weight since they were found in May.

"Luckily there's a lot of good-hearted people out there, and they go to a good home," he says. "Some folks just want to take care of an animal; others want to keep coyotes and critters out of pastures. But either way's fine by me."

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