Dogs, and particularly Labradors, are a way of life for Roy Bingham.  Read on to find out more – and maybe you have room for a rescue Lab in your heart and home?

When Roy Bingham BEM* retired from the British Army in 2013 after almost 40 years, including active service in Northern Ireland, the first Gulf War, Bosnia, the Balkans, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, he fancied a quieter life with wife Sue and their dogs at home in Stowting Common.

However, his father Mick, patron of the charity Labrador Rescue Kent & Borders, had other ideas and sent Roy off on a mission to assess a six year old black Labrador in need of a new home.  Almost 10 years later, Roy is a trustee of the charity, and has been involved in rehoming almost 100 dogs a year.

(*BEM – the British Empire Medal, granted in recognition of meritorious civil or military service)


“I’ve always had a Lab in my life since 1993, even taking them to work in my Army desk job days” Roy says.  “Darcy though was something else – a great big boy who had to be the boss of everything, and particularly loathed cyclists!  We fostered him, and on the second day he bit me while I was removing a thorn from his paw.

“I knew we couldn’t rehome him, but I wanted to keep him, and he mellowed, eventually passing away at just over 15.  Not an easy dog, but a fantastic character and much missed.”


“I do love all dogs, but Labradors are so special – gentle, loving, loyal, great with people.  OK, they’re greedy and they do moult a lot, but none of us are perfect!” Roy laughs.  “You could say I’m a dog snob when it comes to Labs…”

Roy is a qualified Jan Fennell Dog Listener – Jan is a well-respected canine professional who teaches owners how to understand their dogs and to work with them kindly and consistently to reinforce the behaviour owners want, and also provides training for those working with dogs.


Roy uses his Jan Fennell skills and his Army management skills when he goes out to assess both potential owners and those who sadly need to rehome their dog for whatever reason.

“There’s an enormous amount of satisfaction and pride when you match the right dog to the right new owner, and of course we have to take huge care.

“When someone puts their dog up for rehoming we do a full assessment – what’s the dog like with other dogs and bitches, with small children, teenagers, men, women, other pets and so on.  What kind of exercise regime it’s used to, what it’s fed on, any particular likes or dislikes, in fact everything to help us find the right permanent home.

“If the dog has ever bitten a person, we won’t rehome it, but will advise the owner on the next best step.  Sadly, sometimes this might be euthanasia in the worst case, but it’s not fair or right to allow a dog that has bitten people to move into a new home.”


“We take equal care when we do home checks of people who want to take a Lab into their life.  Do they have enough space, is their garden secure, where will the dog sleep, will they devote enough time for exercise and play, are they prepared for the cost of food, vet bills and so on.

“During the pandemic face to face visits were a problem, so we got would-be adopters to send us videos or photos instead!

“Unlike other dog rescues, we always try to keep dogs with their original families until we can move them onto the new home, only resorting to foster or kennels if we have to.  And, also unlike other rescues, we don’t discount working people, as long as they will commit to using a dog walker or doggy day care on the days they work – and we check.

“When you take on one of our dogs you get an adoption guide, tips on how to settle the dog in gently, and you can always call us with any concerns” Roy says.


“There is a real sadness to this job” Roy admits.  “Generally, people who have to rehome their dog don’t want to, but things like relationship breakdown, having to move to different rented accommodation that doesn’t allow pets, and now the cost of living crisis are all having a real impact.

“I always try to make removing the pet as straightforward and painless as possible, and will reassure the owners about the new home we’ve found.  It’s hard, as I fall in love with all the dogs too!”

The happy side comes with all those successful new Lab and owner partnerships.  “Seeing the dog settled in its new home with happy owners is wonderful.  And I’ve made so many friends from people who I’ve rehomed a dog with!”


Labrador Rescue Kent & Borders celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022, and has rehomed over 2,500 dogs in that period.

The registered charity is run totally by volunteers – Maggie and Dave Hinks are the backbone, along with key worker Sue Huggins, Roy himself and wife Sue, Roy’s father Mick, and a team of eight experienced helpers.  The whole team is ready to travel for a dog if needed, claiming only fuel expenses.

Vet bills are of course a huge expense for all rescues, and Roy has high praise for the local Cinque Ports vets – “they do their very best for us.  We also support our rehomers, for example if someone takes on a dog with epilepsy we’ll pay for the medication for the rest of its life.”  Kent’s dog wardens are also on board, and keep LRK up to date with any news about Labs in trouble.

And the Borders bit in the charity name?  “We cover Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex and London, hence the Borders – although to our surprise we once ended up with a Border Collie puppy” Roy says.  “Amazing what can get lost in translation!”


Registered Charity No. 1067495