LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Republican Senator Katrina Shealy thoughtfully puts meaning into each of her pet donkeys' names.
The youngest of the seven donkeys is named "Roads Shealy." The 4-month-old donkey is somewhat of a local celebrity. Roads has her own Facebook page, where fans 'Ask Roads' questions much like they would write to 'Dear Abby.'
"Roads was born right after we adjourned last in June," Shealy explains.
She compares the donkey to the roads bill that passed at the end of the last legislative session. That legislation funds repairs to crumbling South Carolina roads.
"Since Roads was abandoned like South Carolina's roads, I thought that would be good…and then we don't know what the upkeep's going to be, just like South Carolina's roads. So, I tried to make it something significant," Shealy says.
Roads was rejected by her mother, Oreo. Shealy has fed and cared for the donkey on a schedule around the clock, as she would her own child, ever since. She says there have been costly veterinarian bills, too.
Roads is attached to Shealy, following her around the backyard wherever she goes. Shealy didn't plan the relationship to happen as it did as donkeys are kept in the family to fight coyotes.
There are other donkeys with significant names, too. "Rain" was named after the October flood. "Pinckney" was named after Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the Charleston shooting at Mother Emanuel last summer.
Shealy is often teased for raising the Democratic Party's symbol instead of the GOP elephant, to align with her own political affiliation.
"Well, I don't think elephants do too well in Red Bank. So, we just are making Roads be a bipartisan donkey," Shealy says.
As for the Roads Facebook page, Shealy answers fans' questions as if she were her donkey. However, she refuses to answer any serious political questions.
"Her hooves get on the wrong keys when she types, so she makes some mistakes sometimes, but everybody seems to like her and she's got a pretty good following for 4-month-old donkey," she says.
Shealy says she has another donkey expecting, that should give birth any day now, but has no ideas for a name yet.