The owners of a California animal sanctuary said the escape of 11 donkeys could have ended in tragedy if it hadn't been for the actions of some neighbors.

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Carlen and Jim Eckford, owners of the Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary in Arroyo Grande, said they were approached by a cyclist Monday night after 11 of their 14 donkeys had escaped through a back gate.

The Eckfords said they soon located the herd and were surprised to find a number of neighbors on foot and in cars attempting to keep the donkeys clear of the main road.

"We don't know who all the people were and a lot of people came to help us. That was just amazing to us and we want to thank all of those people," Carlen Eckford told KSBY-TV.

The Eckfords said all of the donkeys made it back to the sanctuary safely, but one of the animals, named Tutti, was injured by a car. The donkey spent the night in an animal hospital, where her injuries were found to be minor, and is now recovering at the sanctuary.

The owners said they are installing padlocks on their gates to prevent future escapes.