WINTER GARDEN – Sunnybrook Farm in Winter Garden, a horse riding school on Tilden Road, lost one of its animal residents Tuesday, Aug. 22.
Farm owner Rebecca Berry, a 30-year Winter Garden resident who rescues animals from conditions of abuse and neglect, returned from a lunch date with her father that day to a heartbreaking scene.
One of her two female goats, named Clover, was lying unresponsive on the ground. Although it wasn’t entirely unusual for Clover to lie on the ground, Berry called out to the two-and-one-half-year-old female goat from a distance to make sure she was all right.
“I said, ‘Hey Clove. You OK?’ But she didn’t move or acknowledge me,” Berry said. “And I was like, ‘Clover!’ when she didn’t respond again, that’s when I knew there had to be something wrong. So I went over there, and you can tell she was dead.”
The horrid realization shocked Berry, particular after noticing Clover’s body was still warm and there was clearly a gunshot wound in one of her rear legs. Berry assumes the bullet, which left both an entrance and exit wound, hit one of her main arteries and caused her to bleed out.
“I just can’t imagine someone calling one of my animals up to the property and just shooting them,” Berry said, choking back tears. “I mean you think you’re safe because Winter Garden is pretty far from Orlando, you know? …. I’ve been in this area for 30 years, and for something like this to happen — it completely just rocked my entire world.”
Berry said she and a parent of one of the children she trains to ride horses called the police to report the incident. The police officer created an incident report but informed Berry there was not much they could do without any evidence, which she suspected might happen considering no one saw anything.
After collecting her emotions, Berry posted the details of the incident on Facebook to warn nearby pet owners to be careful.
“I thought it was necessary to let the community know because if someone is sick enough to call a goat up to the gate and shoot them without any repercussions, then it’s up to us to keep an eye out for this person,” Berry said. “Who knows? Maybe he has shot another dog or another goat and they just didn’t report it or put it on Facebook. I just hope that by getting the word out maybe I could prevent someone else from losing their animal.”
Since Clover’s death, Berry has re-homed her other goat, Bambi, and a donkey. She also plans to move her horses from a pasture located in the front of her property to a pasture in the back to reduce the risk of them also being harmed.
“I’ve had this farm for 19 years, and I’ve been in the Winter Garden area for about 30 years," Berry said. "But after this incident, I just don’t feel comfortable leaving them out there until I get a security system.”
The rearrangement, she said, will have to do until she is able to save enough money to purchase and install a security system on her farm, which she estimates will cost around $400 to $800. Anyone wishing to help Berry purchase a security system may contact her directly at (407) 402-5900.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]