Even as Afghanistan crumbles, this brave veteran won’t leave his men or animals behind.
Afghanistan’s collapse has been devastating for civilians, women, and the veterans and troops who fought America’s longest war. But Kabul’s fall to the Taliban also spells disaster for animals who will be forced to fend for themselves under a brutal regime.
As people desperately flee, one former British marine and rescue founder, Pen Farthing, refuses to leave until he evacuates his local staff and the nearly 200 rescued animals in his care.
Farthing, who came to Afghanistan as a British Marine Commando, went on to found a Kabul-based animal rescue, Nowzad, in 2007. Since then, the non-profit organization has rescued 1,600 animals and reunited them with former soldiers, according to CNN.
Now Farthing is racing to fly almost 200 dogs and cats, as well as the NGO’s local staff members and their families, to safety. This includes some of Afghanistan’s first female veterinarians, whose once-bright futures have been suddenly thrown into question.
“We know obviously the Taliban of old never allowed women to go to school, not be educated, not to go to work, not to leave the home,” said Farthing, whose organization has also reportedly trained 500 aspiring veterinarians in recent years.
Of course, Nowzad’s local team aren’t the only ones threatened by the Taliban. The future looks equally grim for Afghanistan’s dogs and cats, who had benefited from the country’s budding focus on animal welfare. (Nowzad also ran the country’s first donkey clinic, according to CNN).
Now, these animals will be at the mercy of a regime that previously banned pet ownership and considers dogs unclean.
Thankfully, Farthing’s calls for help have gone viral, allowing Nowzad to raise enough money to fly 98 dogs and 88 cats out of Afghanistan on a chartered cargo plane, aka Operation Ark. You can show your support for this mission by making a donation.
Regardless, Farthing refuses to leave Kabul until his staff and animals are safely evacuated. After all, Nowzad’s founder is a former marine, meaning no man (or animals, in this case) will be left behind — especially now that the Taliban has moved in next door.
Find out more in the following video: