JESSIE Bascombe, 36, is a founding member and trustee of Swindon-based dog rescue charity SNDogs. When the charity had bags of food intended for foster dogs stolen, the organisation found itself overwhelmed by public support. Jessie has a partner, two daughters and a son and lives in Pinehurst, where the charity is based.

“I was born in Brighton and my parents ran market stalls,” says Jessie.

“It was not a normal lifestyle at home. We went home at night but every day they were off at different markets all over the country. They used to make moisturisers, essential oils, all that kind of stuff.

“That’s where my love of animals came from, I guess, because I could take them with me.

“We had a cat. A neighbour had come home and found he’d been evicted, and had nowhere for the cat to go. He asked us to look after the cat and never returned.

“One day whilst we were at a market I’d been and bought the cat’s food. I just went to the park on the way back to the stall that was my parents and this little Papillon [a small spaniel] ran over, went straight under the dog-proof fencing they’d just put round the kiddies’ park and came running over to me, trying to eat the cat biscuits in the bag.

“I managed to catch it and took it back to the market stall. My parents made me take it to the police station with them at the end of the day. This was in Lyme Regis. A few days later my parents we given a call and told it looked like nobody was coming for the dog, he wasn’t coping in kennels and if we didn’t take him he’d be put to sleep.”

Jessie, who was no older than nine, named her new dog Sammy. The cat, a brown tabby, was called Rosie because her markings suggested rosy cheeks.

One of Jessie’s daughters also has a Papillon, named Sammy in honour of the first.

Jessie moved to Swindon from Weymouth about 15 years ago to be with her partner.

She has juggled cleaning and dog walking jobs with the needs of family life, but describes animal rescue as her true vocation. It is something she has been doing since Rosie and Sammy came to her.

“When I took one of my animals to the local vets, one of the staff there mentioned that there was a charity being set up and asked whether I was interested in helping with it. I said I was.”

The organisation was Strictly Strays, which gathers donations to support stray dogs in need of medical treatment.

After taking a break from rescue work because of childcare needs, Jessie became one of four co-founders of SNDogs, which has now been operating for a little over four years.

“I get phone calls twenty-four seven. One came when I was in the bath at 10 o’clock at night. This lady had been in a violent relationship and had left her partner about three years before. She said he’d left the house which was in joint names.

"When she went to claim the house back she found the two greyhounds which had been part of their relationship had been left behind in an appalling state.”

The woman couldn’t house the greyhounds in her own small flat while the house was renovated, and in any case they were former racing greyhounds and she feared for the life of her own small dog.

SNDogs has provided homes for more than 200 dogs. Some have been given up by owners unable to look after them because of health problems or changes in circumstances, others have come from council pounds and still others from other rescue organisations.

These include international organisations, and the roster currently awaiting rehoming includes Marvin, a crossbreed originally from Spain.

British-born dogs in need of homes include Tilly, a three-legged Jack Russell, and Logan, a Labrador who came in with a weight problem and is now on a fitness programme.

People sometimes ask why SNDogs helps animals from other countries when there are so many needy ones in Britain.

Jessie’s answer is that SNDogs, like other rescue and rehoming organisations, can only take certain numbers of certain breed types. Those numbers are limited by the availability of suitable fosterers and adopters and whether an animal can get on with others, as SNDogs has no kennels.

“Although there might be a lot of dogs in the UK needing somewhere to go, you have to manage your expectations of rehoming the dogs sometimes. Obviously, if it’s a dog-aggressive dog it might need a rescue space but we might not have the expertise at that time. The foster home that might be suitable for that dog might not be available.”

New arrivals at the charity’s headquarters are assessed on issues such as temperament and suitability for homes with children. Prospective fosterers and adopters must have secure gardens and be flexible enough not to leave the dog alone for more than four hours.

SNDogs is an entirely voluntary organisation, and relies on contributions of time, funds and items such as food. There are currently about 40 volunteers working for the organisation.

Everybody who wants to help can do something, even if it’s limited to spending half an hour per week sharing online posts about dogs looking for homes.

“Just one share could find that dog a home. If people shared our ‘dogs looking for homes’ page with each of their friends on Facebook, so it went on their wall, all of that friend’s friends would see it. That alone is a huge thing.”

This ties in with Jessie’s personal philosophy.

“If you can do something, do something. I can do something so I am doing it.

“That doesn’t make me any more superhuman than anybody else. Everybody can do something. I choose not to spend an hour putting on make-up in the morning – I choose to spend an hour mopping up wee and poo.

“We all choose what we want to do. We choose what our commitments are in life.”

Visit the charity’s website - - for more information.