EAST COUNTY —Pct. 4 Livestock Deputy Constable Dwayne Morrow arrested a Splendora man back on October 25, 2012 for dragging a donkey with a rope tied to the trailer hitch of his SUV and leaving it severely injured on the roadside.
Marc Richard Saunders, 30, of 14495 West Lake Circle in Splendora is charged with state jail felony Animal Cruelty.
Morrow said while some animal cruelty charges are misdemeanors, Saunders’ charge was raised to the felony level based on evidence he knowingly and intentionally injured the animal.
The bizarre chain of events began when Saunders went to visit friends in New Caney around lunchtime and arrived just as someone called saying they found the family’s pet donkey, Susie Q, wandering loose around the corner and secured her on Acorn Hill Drive, to a utility pole. so someone could go and get her. Another friend, who was staying with the family, was going to get Susie Q and walk her home, but he said Saunders insisted on driving and said they could tie the donkey to his trailer hitch and slowly lead her home.
The other man agreed, and the pair went to where Susie Q was tied. The second man identified as Taylor sat on the open tailgate of Saunders’s black Chevy Blazer as they headed home with the donkey connected to the vehicle by a tow strap. At first, the man said Saunders drove slowly, and Susie Q was able to keep up. But then, he said Saunders sped up to over 20 miles per hour and the donkey sat down, straightening her front legs to try and stop.
Taylor told deputies he yelled and pleaded with Saunders to stop, but Saunders said it was “fine” and then increased his speed. The man on the tailgate said as he continued to yell to Saunders, helplessly watching the donkey being injured by the pavement, Susie Q fell over on her side and Saunders kept driving. The second man estimated Saunders’s speed at around 40 miles per hour as he dragged the donkey approximately one-quarter mile down Acorn Hill toward Pickering Road, but Morrow said it may have seemed faster because of the witness’s position.
The blood trail left by the donkey supported the witness’s story and showed Saunders drove at least 10 to 15 feet further after Susie Q fell on her side when the pavement had ground off her hooves between 1.5 and 2 inches, exposing raw flesh and bone.
When Saunders finally stopped, the witness said he walked to the back of the vehicle, and when he saw the bloody injured donkey Saunders unhooked her rope from the trailer hitch and fled the area. After his arrest, Saunders claimed he never drove that fast while pulling Susie Q and left because he had to meet his daughter’s school bus.
Someone later reported seeing the donkey on the side of the road, believing she was struck by a vehicle. Morrow was dispatched to the scene as DPS troopers were leaving in search of the suspect vehicle. Deputy Morrow’s investigation soon revealed the truth and he found Saunders at his home and took him into custody.
A veterinarian and his vet technician who were not from the area but were driving by saw the donkey down and stopped to see if he could be of assistance. He was able to give it something for the pain and wrap the hooves to prevent infection. A makeshift sled was made and was used to drag the donkey to his home.
The Pct. 4 Constable’s Office Livestock Division handles all livestock calls east of I-45.
Chief Deputy Barry Welch said livestock deputies play an important role in the county.
“Constable Hayden and I are thankful to have experienced livestock deputies,” Welch said. “Most people would probably be surprised at how many livestock calls we receive.”
“Fortunately, this extreme abuse was an unusual case,” he said. “But we do respond to abuse calls and neglect calls regularly, as well as the frequent traffic hazard calls when large animals get out on the road and are a danger to themselves and drivers.”
Monday morning Sauder’s appeared on a video monitor in Judge Stovall’s Court who is filling in for Judge Mayes. He remains in the Montgomery County Jail on a $50,000 bond for the case involving the donkey and no bond for a motion to revoke probation.
Saunders is not new to the judicial system. In this mornings testimony in an attempt to gain a bond and lower the $50,000 bond his history was recalled by his probation officer. She was able to testify that the motion to revoke was filed based on several drug tests that he failed due to meth use including one on the day after his arrest on the animal cruelty case. She also testified that Saunders says what he wants people to hear.
His father-in-law, a retired paramedic too the stand and testified how terrified the family was of Saunders. He testified Saunders beat his wife 10-15 times a month. In 2007 he was arrested for punching her in the head and then again at a later date for dragging her across the concrete. He stated that Saunders mother in law has been in ICU for a heart condition and that him being released on bond is seriously affecting here emotionally.
When asked by Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer if he knew anything of the incident he explained how he came to know of it. Saunder’s father-in-law told the court that he was at home when Saunder’s pulled in next to the house and got out. Saunder’s 3-year-old son was with him and was quite upset. When asked what was wrong the boy said, “Paw Paw daddy hurt the donkey”.
Saunder’s and his wife and children all lived in the same home and there had been physical altercations in the past.
Saunder’s told the judge that he wasn’t sure he could make bond and if he got out he most likely would live with his brother in Houston.
His father-in law stated he understood that Saunder’s father wanted Saunder’s to relocate to California where Texas would leave him alone.
Montgomery County Precinct 4 Deputy Dwayne Morrow took the stand and testified that he had checked on “"Susie Q” yesterday and she was getting quite healthy and looked good nutritionally.
Judge Stovall denied both of the requests of Saunder’s attorney Joseph LaBella to both give him a bond on the motion to revoke probation and lower the bond on the animal cruelty case.
Ever since the case came to light “My Feed Store” in Grangerland had set up a fund for Susie -Q both for vet care and for feed and bedding. Donations came in from around the world and feed and vet costs still continue to be paid from the fund.