In one of the more horrific animal cruelty cases in the area this year, in October, a Splendora man was accused of dragging a friend's pet donkey behind his truck so fast that the animal's hooves were in large part scraped from its feet.
On Thursday, a Montgomery County grand jury returned a state-jail felony indictment in the case. Now 30-year-old Marc Richard Saunders faces an animal cruelty charge that could net him two years behind bars.
According to affidavits released at the time of the offense, Saunders attended a gathering at a friend's house in New Caney. Once there, someone told him that Suzie Q, the friend's donkey, had gotten loose and was roaming the backroads in the area. Despite a friend's offer to go get Suzie Q and walk her home, Saunders insisted on a more redneck solution: He would tie the donkey's lead to his trailer hitch and guide her home that way.
Which might have been a somewhat reasonable plan had he not chosen to drive the truck at what one witness estimated to be 40 miles an hour.
His animal cruelty charge in this case has been enhanced to a felony because prosecutors alleged that he knowingly and/or intentionally injured Suzie Q.
That witness was riding in the back of Saunders's truck. He later told police that Saunders took things slow at first. When he decided to hit the gas, the donkey, showing that animal's textbook stubborness, sat down and dug in its hooves. Saunders reportedly sped up more.
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As the witness hollered for Saunders to slow down, Saunders insisted things were fine and sped up even more. The donkey reportedly tumbled to its side. Saunders continued driving for another ten to 15 feet, trailing blood and hide behind him. (The witness's estimate of a 40 mph speed could be inflated, according to one investigator. People riding in the backs of trucks tend to believe they are going faster than they are.)
Saunders finally stopped the truck, and when he saw the mangled Susie Q, he reportedly untied the donkey and sped away, never making it back to his friend's house. A passerby found the injured donkey and believed that she was the victim of a hit-and-run; Precinct 4 Livestock Deputy Dewayne Morrow's investigation soon discovered the (alleged) horrible truth.
After being dragged to her home on an improvised sled, the first vet on the scene told Susie Q's owners that the donkey might never recover, but a large-animal vet who assessed the animal later delivered a rosier prognosis. Despite losing several strips of her hide and up to two inches of her hooves, Susie Q is expected to make a full recovery; volunteers have pledged to make her special shoes to enable her to stand as her hooves return to normal.
Saunders has previous convictions for drug possession, theft, and assault / bodily violence / family member.