Future of horse ranch, safe haven for foster children is in limbo

LITHIA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a safe haven for foster children, but the future of a local horse ranch is in limbo after its owners suddenly learned their lease would not be renewed.

Angela Spillis, who founded Rugged Cross Youth Ranch with her husband, said she has been given less than 3 weeks to find a new home for both her horses and her life’s mission. The property the ranch is located on was sold in December. Spillis and her horses need to be out by January 28.

Founded in 2009, Rugged Cross Youth Ranch is a place where kids from local foster homes and orphanages can forget about life’s troubles and just be kids again. Hundreds of Tampa Bay area children have attended the ranch’s day camps to ride horses and experience farm life.

Spillis feels a special connection with foster kids because her father was one. She was heartbroken when she learned she would have to move or close the doors of the ranch.

“I have four kids of my own and I could never imagine a child without a mother’s love so that’s where my passion comes from,” Spillis said.

She told News Channel 8 she does have a new location available for the ranch but that it is way out of the price range for her non-profit. In turn, the owners have set up a fundraising page to help with the cost.  If you would like to donate, click here.

Mary’s story will air tonight at 8 p.m. on News Channel 8’s Great 38.

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