Someone spray-painted a white donkey red in El Paso Saturday and the owners want the sheriff to find out who the culprit is.

The owner says she knows who, that a neighbor confessed to the deed, according to a Sheriff's report filed in the matter, but the suspect says he didn't do it.

And, in fact, there may have been any number of potential suspects wanting to paint the tail (and the rest) of the donkey because of its wandering ways.

Paula Mathews of 985 Ridge Rd. in El Paso accused neighbor Heath Wood of 937 Ridge Rd. of having spray-painted her family's pet donkey in retaliation for the donkey having gotten out of its pasture and into Wood's pasture, according to the report.

"He admitted to having painted him," Mathews said. "He was mad because he says our donkey got into the pasture with his mares and that his 'mares are too expensive to be ruined by a cheap donkey.'"

Mathews and her family had gone away for the weekend and received a call from her father (who lives next door) on Saturday informing them of the shocking scene.

"My dad called and told me Heath brought [the donkey] back and that he was painted red all over," Mathews said. "My dad at first thought he was covered in blood. My dad told Heath that we were going to be mad about it and Heath just said, 'Oh, well, it shouldn't have gotten out and into my pasture.'

"My little boy, Branden, who is only 3 and a half, ran screaming when he saw him. He was crying 'Momma, why is he all red?,'" Mathews said. "He has been crying ever since. Every time he looks at him he gets upset. He just doesn't understand why."

Someone must have really held the animal down in order to paint its whole body, Mathews said.

Tuesday afternoon the donkey still had thick red paint covering most of its body, including its back, legs, hooves and nose.

Mathews pointed out an injury on the animal's nose, suggesting the mark may be the result of a fight during the painting.

"We don't know what to do. We don't want to hurt him any more," Mathews said. "He has become so skittish since this happened. Used to, the kids could ride him. But not now. We have to call a vet to help us remove the paint and to check him and make sure he is OK.

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