Abused, abandoned farm animals find forever home on Lake County farm

AnnMarie Roberts cares for more than 350 animals daily

MINNEOLA, Fla. – AnnMarie Roberts founded Sugarloaf Mountain Ranch and Sanctuary 11 years ago to help abandoned and abused farm animals.

Since starting the nonprofit, she estimates more than 350 animals have called her 5-acre property home.

Roberts is this week's Getting Results Award winner.

News 6 was given a tour of the ranch, which is not open to the public.

Many of the animals were once people's pets. Everything from pot-bellied pigs, goats, rosters and chickens have been given to her from owners who could no longer take care of them.

Roberts' first adoption was a pot bellied pig named Cocoa. He was owned by college students who underestimated his eventual size.

"They called me and asked if I could adopt him because he got too big," she says. 

That scenario would play out over and over again in the years that followed.  

During the 2006 economic recession word spread that the animal rescue was accepting pets and the numbers exploded.

"I can't stop. How can I stop," she says. "You name it and they end up here."

She also takes care of everything from alpacas to emus. The largest animal is Fozzie, a Scottish bull. 

 "Everybody wants a mini pig," she continued. "There's no such thing. I've rescued pigs that were very undernurished."

Roberts spends most of her day caring for the animals. She says it takes her nearly three hours just to feed them.

"I'm up at 5 in the morning and I go to bed sometimes at 12 or 1 o'clock at night."

Roberts says caring for this many animals can cost thousands of dollars a month, most of it coming from personal funds. She does have a donation box on her gate and a website with a donation feature.   

Every animal has a name and Roberts can tell you its story. "I treat them like my children," she says. "We just want to give them the best quality of life that we can."

Surprisingly, Roberts never had a pet growing up and once worked in the New York fashion industry. 

"People who knew me back then can't believe it," she says. "I was always prim and proper, I used to wear my hats. This is me now but I love it. I wouldn't change it for the world."

Roberts was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by viewer, Robert Buck. Buck discovered the farm while exploring the Sugarloaf Mountain area and has become a regular donor.

"She's getting results because of the number of animals she cares for," Buck says. "I think AnnMarie is probably the hardest-working woman I have ever met."

Roberts reluctantly says the ranch is at capacity and she's had to stop adopting but she has plans to expand in the future.  

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.