Close-up of a cow at The Retreat Animal Rescue  with some horses and trees behind it


Sean Barrs

The Retreat Animal Rescue: A sanctuary of compassion

The Retreat Animal Rescue & Sanctuary in Kent, is home to over 1,250 animals, and has saved 20,000 animals over the last thirty years. 

The sanctuary has a strong community vibe, whereby people come together to volunteer their time and skills to look after non-human animals. 

The Retreat’s residents

The Retreat has a diverse range of rescue animals, from cats and dogs, peacocks and donkeys, to ex-race horses and ex-riding school ponies, The Retreat does not discriminate, supporting domestic, wild and farm animals.

The site feels like a little vegan paradise, with volunteers caring for the animals and creating a welcoming community space with an emphasis on love and compassion. The Retreat states that they “are pressing for a more enlightened world where humans remember their dignity and show compassion and love to all others, regardless of sex, race, age, gender, disability or species.”

On visiting, volunteers will happily take the time to tell you each animal's story, and how they came to be in the sanctuary. You can get up close and personal with some of the animals, too, if you book one of the tours.

One of the success stories from The Retreat is about a dog called Ranger who was found close to death, starved and chained to an old pallet. This poor boy had just been forgotten about. Thankfully Ranger was rescued and now lives with other dogs and a very loving family.

Residents who have disabilities or are elderly are given extra care by the staff and volunteers, which is heartwarming, as many of these animals would not have been allowed to live in other settings. 

AT: Chicken from The Retreat Animal Rescue

Sean Barrs


The sanctuary hosts an annual fundraiser festival, Wild Kind Hearts Campout. The 2023 version of the event was a great success, with Mobius Loop providing the stage and headlining the weekend. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear speeches from activists and representatives from several organisations and backgrounds. 

There are also markets and special fundraising events run throughout the year by other Sanctuary supporters. 

If you want to keep up to date with information about these events, you can do so by following their social media pages, which you should also do to see all the cute animal photos!

Ways to support 

There are many ways to support an animal sanctuary like The Retreat, such as visiting and spending money in the (amazing) onsite vegan café and shops - you can also stay in one of the onsite lodges to spend even more time at the sanctuary.

Other ways to support include attending the events, promoting The Retreat on social media, and donating.

Donations are always welcome; this does not necessarily have to be money. It could be items for the sanctuary to sell in their thrift store or even bedding, food or toys for the many residents. Plus, the sanctuary has several different volunteering roles you can apply for.

Welcome sign for The Retreat Animal Rescue in Kent

Sean Barrs

Find out more

If you’re interested in learning more about The Retreat, you can check out their website and read their full story. Or you could go one step further and buy Billy Thompson’s book, Earth Boy. He founded the sanctuary and shares his inspiring journey inside.

Not only do sanctuaries help animals, but they also affirm a vegan lifestyle, and have you heard about these animal sanctuaries across the UK?

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