Pigs find refuge at barnyard rescue

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Amber Doughty, owner of Right Way Rescue Inc., a nonprofit barnyard rescue, discusses the animals in her facility, while carrying her one-year-old daughter, Sayuri Herbert.


By Cindy Beamon
Albemarle Life Editor

Monday, January 15, 2018

The water hoses froze last week that Amber Doughty uses to fill troughs for dozens of barnyard animals she rescued.

The potbellied pigs, goats, horses, chickens, geese still needed to drink, so Doughty filled up gallon jugs and toted them to pens at Right Way Rescue, located north of Elizabeth City. A single draft horse gulped down several containers full.

On rounds later, she broke ice in the troughs so the animals could get to water underneath.

The tiresome chores are among the many duties Doughty performs as caretaker and advocate for her barnyard rescue. The mother of five said the work is a full-time job -- only she doesn't get paid.

Doughty is the founder of Right Way Rescue, a nonprofit that relies on donations for food, bedding and veterinarian bills until she can find the right home for the animals. Everyone who cares of the animals, including Doughty's 23-year-old daughter Lindsay, are volunteers.

Doughty said her reward is finding new homes for distressed animals in bad situations.

One of her rescues is a potbellied pig named Trouble. She spent days chasing him in "The Desert" area of Pasquotank County after someone dumped him there, along with a bag of food. Doughty said she eventually lured him into a cage while keeping a close watch for rattlesnakes.

Another pig arrived in a crate in her driveway. Its ears were bitten off and its snout had a big gash in it. Doughty named it Scar. Scar is terrified of dogs.

When Pasquotank Animal Control delivered Dougie, it was shaking and panting. After it was nursed back to health, the pig with lots of personality, jumped the fence and came knocking on the door of Doughty's house nearby.

Most of her charges are sociable pigs that grew bigger than their owners imagined they would, Doughty said.

One is Peppa the Pig, so friendly that it has made visits to the Easter Seals daycare. Peppa's owner was living on the 34th floor of a condo in Virginia Beach and was carrying it up and down stairs each day to go potty. Eventually Peppa had to go.

Right now, Doughty's rescue is overflowing with potbellied pigs from across the region, including southeast Virginia. Her limit is 16, and people keep calling about more that need to be rescued. She blamed breeders who give the impression that the pigs will not grow any bigger than 25 pounds. They actually grow double or triple that size, Doughty said.

Doughty said potbellied pigs make good pets.

"They are cleaner and easier to train than dogs," she said.

She's hoping to find them a forever home soon, but she is particular about finding the right fit. People who adopt have to sign contracts that stipulate how the animals will be treated and allow the rescue to make checks.

Unlike other rescues, Doughty said she takes owner surrenders rather than wait months for complaints of abuse to make their way to court. Doughty said she prefers that animals arrive in better condition than to wait and risk the chance that they will suffer from neglect.

On Monday as the snow melted into mud, the pigs were rooting fresh wood shavings inside pens that Doughty or her cousin had built. Now that she has moved her rescue horses to a new location, Doughty hopes to build some better pig pens at the two-acre site on Northside Road.

In addition to the pigs, Doughty has 14 horses at this time; four are her own. Doughty, 40, said she always wanted a horse growing up but never had one. When her daughter asked for one, she got it, and they started the rescue. Horse trainer Heather Gurganus at Double G Stables volunteers her time to help horses that have issues, she noted.

Feeding the animals adds up. In about two weeks, Doughty went through 1,200 pounds of oats and 15 bags of horse feed at 50 pounds each. She's making payments on a $3,000 veterinarian bill and is happy that feed stores allowed her set up an account so that she can pay as donations arrive.

Drakes Farm and Garden, Tractor Supply, Winks -- "they all know me," she said.

Caring for the animals takes most of her time, so Doughty said she does not have a lot of time to devote to bake sales and fundraisers to keep the rescue going. The adoption paperwork and managing the books adds to her work load.

"Doing it my myself is the hardest part....There's not enough time in the day," she said.

To contribute, go to RightWayRescue.org or make donations at local feed stores. Doughty said she could also use old blankets that the pigs use to keep warm.