PLANTERSVILLE, Texas — The small town of Plantersville is home to a rescue that cares for over 300 donkeys. The dedicated volunteers of TMR Rescue said these creatures are sometimes misunderstood by those who take on ownership - they look like horses, act a lot like dogs, but their care is just a little bit different.
Monte The Singing Donkey has hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, all due to videos of his sing-song bray. His joyous braying began shortly after he was adopted out of TMR, taken in to be a companion for his new owner’s horses in Conroe.
"It was like he and the horses had known each other forever," Monte's owner Pinky Ruggles said. "It was like, this herd had been a herd for years... And then three days later... He just let out this honking hee-haw, weird bray. He looked as startled as I did!"
Monte is one of thousands of donkeys, mules, ponies and horses who have passed through TMR over the years. TMR has a mission to protect, rehabilitate, and adopt out donkeys and other equines who have suffered abuse or neglect.
"My daughter rides," said volunteer Vicki Morris as she reflected on what brought her out to Plantersville two years ago. "She has a horse, so that kind of started it as well. Just being able to come out and work with them and love on them as well, has been awesome.”
Donkeys are a special kind of animal. They need a lot of care like horses do, but don’t always get the same reputation as horses, the volunteers said. But it’s bonding with these animals that bring joy and purpose to volunteers.
"So when people come out here, we really want them to learn the proper way to handle donkeys and build a bond with them," said volunteer "Cowboy Bob" Bova. "And then when we adopt them out, we really spend some time with their new human and show them what’s a great way to get a close relationship with them."
Bova, a downtown Austin resident, is one of several volunteers who live in a large city or suburban area, and otherwise wouldn’t be able to exercise their passion for equine care.
"It is a great break to come out here," he said. "The ranch is beautiful, and working with the animals is really therapy for me.”
An abused animal might not feel like opening up right away. But when loved by supporters and volunteers like these, they are given a reason to sing.
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