The dog rescuers with a difference: South East Dog Rescue

If ever there was a more poignant phrase when it comes to dogs, it surely must be ‘adopt don’t shop’. That’s why has chosen to support South East Dog Rescue – which rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes dogs in need – by donating 10% of our income to them this month.

But South East Dog Rescue isn’t your standard rescue centre; its founder, Kymm White, goes above and beyond to help dogs that many other rescues wouldn’t be able to help due to complex behavioural issues, their age, or illnesses.

Celebrating its ten-year anniversary this April, South East Dog Rescue was founded after Kymm fostered a mistreated and emaciated eight-month old husky puppy, Lily. While Lily made excellent progress and a seemingly full recovery, sadly, the abuse Lily had suffered meant her kidney and liver failed her, and she died suddenly overnight just three months after Kymm took her in.

Devastated, Kymm decided to make it her mission to help other dogs, and fostered a little bull breed cross called Flossie. But after a few months Kymm realised Flossie wasn’t being advertised for rehoming by the rescue centre. Kymm contacted them and was told it would be near impossible to rehome a dog like Flossie, and that she should take her back to the pound if she was unable to adopt her. However, this would have meant a guaranteed death sentence, and so Kymm paid for Flossie’s adoption fee, had the dog signed over to her, and searched internet forums to find her the perfect ‘fur-ever home’.

As soon as Flossie had been rehomed Kymm went back to the rescue centre, and adopted an English bull terrier. She told herself she would only look after one dog at a time – partly due to the fact that she had a young daughter, partner and a well-paid job to consider as well.

From despair to dog rescue

However, Kymm’s passion for helping dogs in need quickly took over, and in April 2009, Kymm left her day job to set up South East Dog Rescue as an official dog rehoming and rehabilitation centre. Their mantra quickly became, ‘giving abandoned and unwanted dogs a second chance.’

Today, South East Dog Rescue – which relies solely on donations from the public to keep running, and from which Kymm doesn’t take a salary – is based at a kennels near Maidstone, Kent. Last year, Kymm and her team of volunteers rescued over 100 dogs, having helped around 50 dogs per year in the in the early days.

While Kymm rehomes dogs from all backgrounds, and many are able to be rehomed straight away, her passion is helping welfare cases (dogs who have been severely abused in some way, and are often emaciated), dogs with medical conditions, elderly dogs and those needing end of life care, or dogs who are mentally traumatised.

And where a larger dog rescue may not be able to dedicate time to rehabilitation, Kymm is a qualified canine behaviourist and has studied extensively with the Natural Animal Centre. She treats dogs on an individual and holistic level, using complementary therapies such as homeopathy, aromatherapy and Bach Flower Remedies. Kymm also offers a treatment to emaciated dogs which enables them to absorb nutrients from their food, ensuring the dog puts on weight and quickly regains health. This is something that even most vets wouldn’t offer, and which really sets South East Dog Rescue apart as one of the UK’s most caring dog rescues.

Kymm also helps to rehabilitate dogs who have previously bitten, and she currently has eight ‘sanctuary’ dogs, who will call South East Dog Rescue their forever home as they are unable to be introduced back into a traditional home environment. This includes South East Dog Rescue’s self-styled mascot, Pumba, whose adventures are often documented on their Facebook page – and usually involve him cheekily rummaging around in the nearest bin for food!

South East Dog Rescue can look after around 25 dogs at any one time, including those who are placed in foster homes, many with a view to adopt.

Waggy tails, selfies and tough decisions

Kymm says the most rewarding part of her job is seeing pictures of dogs she has helped in their new homes, and receiving updates about how they are thriving with their new family. She also loves seeing a traumatised dog wagging its tail for the first time after it has been rescued, when she is able to gently break down barriers the dog has put up in fear.

But a job as demanding as rehoming unwanted animals is of course not without its drawbacks, and Kymm says the hardest part of her role is saying goodbye to dogs she’s rehomed, or having to make the decision when a dog is so unwell it must be put to sleep on medical grounds. However, Kymm prides South East Dog Rescue on being a true no-kill shelter, which means dogs she helps are never put to sleep for behavioural reasons.

“You never get a break, as rescue work is 365 days a year, seven days a week, and it’s not a nine-to-five job. I will often take a call at midnight to help a dog who has been tied up and abandoned,” says Kymm. Luckily, she has a team of incredible volunteers who assist her at the kennels, and they often enable her to take a well-deserved evening off.

But now her daughter, Skye, has reached the age of 12, Kymm says it is becoming easier to manage. And despite her hectic schedule caring for multiple dogs at a time, Kymm always puts her daughter first, ensuring she attends every parents evening and sports day. Fortunately, Skye is also an animal lover, and incredibly supportive of her Mum’s vocation.

What the future holds

Kymm says she wants to help more dogs than ever in future. She will continue to rehabilitate dogs with complex needs, to be a no kill rescue, and to endeavour to rehome dogs to families with children who can offer an animal a vibrant, happy and exciting life.

“I view each dog on their own merit, just as we judge every potential new adopter based on their own merit,” said Kymm. “We are proud not to have blanket rules and to view each dog as an individual with their own needs.”

The team really admires Kymm and her team of volunteers for devoting their time to helping dogs in need, and we are delighted to be able to make a donation towards the upkeep of the centre.

To find out more about rehoming a dog from South East Dog Rescue, visit their website to view the dogs currently looking for homes. Prospective fosterers and adopters should join South East Dog Rescue’s Facebook page, or email for a pre-adoption form to arrange a home check.

To donate just £1 a month to South East Dog Rescue to help dogs in need, click here.