The Spirits Rest Horse and Animal Sanctuary in the Bridge Development in Dartford cares for over 200 animals.Some find loving families to foster them and some are rehomed.


This animal safe haven is run by the committed animal-adoring Bates family. The founder, Christine Bates, began work in animal welfare over 30 years ago.To my question about what drove her to begin this charity, Christine replied, “Animal Welfare issues in this area are one of the highest in the country. Only recently have laws been passed to support animals in abusive situations,most recent being the breeding of dogs.”Spirits Rest take in any wildlife that are in need of help liaising with other rescue centres.


The procedure of taking in animals is very extensive with either members of the public or the police reporting cases. After Vet checks,the animals are classed as rehomeable. When Spirits Rest takes in neglected and abused animals,they are at times even at the point of death.Christine mentioned that Horses tend to be the most horrifically treated and are in the worst conditions by the time they are saved.Three day notices are posted to the owners of abused animals to give them a chance to help them. However, the owners tend to be ignorant towards animal neglect as in the Oaks Farm case which received a lot of media coverage for the malnourished cows on the farm.Spirits Rest actively contributed to the ongoing case in an attempt to save them.


Covid has caused major issues regarding funding for the charity.Previously, money was raised through boot fairs,fetes and pub quizzes.Now that these avenues are closed, Spirits Rest relies upon Christine working full-time as well as from generous donations from the local community and businesses.


Spirits Rest have therapy ponies, who work with both adults and children with learning difficulties.Once lockdown restrictions ease, the Sanctuary plans to work closely with schools and local clubs to introduce animal welfare issues to children, with projects such as bee-keeping, and teaching about food through the use of allotments.The hands-on experience with the animals will instill a sense of obligation towards the planet and its many creatures. 


Recently, members of the community raised money for a gentle pony named Diddy who has been diagnosed with Laminitis, a condition which causes extreme pain in the hooves. The donations allow the Sanctuary to keep things running smoothly but more is needed. According to Christine,on average it costs (without vet bills) £1500 a month to run Spirits Rest! At the moment, the sanctuary is seeing a steady rise in the number of animals that they care for, almost double the number in their care pre-covid, “as when people have lost their jobs, the first thing to go are their pets!”


Please actively support this endeavour, as being kind with your time and money can make a huge difference to the dignity of the many animals that look to humans for comfort.