American service dogs given precedence over Afghanis waiting to be evacuated by air

NEWS AND COMMENT-KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: News media is reporting that US military dogs are being given precedence over Afghanis who are waiting to be evacuated by air out of Kabul on the takeover of the country by the Taliban. There is a photograph on Twitter of dog ears sticking out above a row of seats in an aircraft. The dog is the companion of an employee of the US embassy in Kabul. One tweet said that many Afghans are outraged and offended by this. Some Afghans will be left behind because of the time limits on the evacuation while dogs belonging to the military i.e. service dogs, and embassy employee dogs are being flown out.

US military dogs evacuated by air from Kabul

US military dogs evacuated by air from Kabul. Photo: Twitter.

It’s an interesting (and sad) discussion which brings into play a plethora of philosophical and moral issues which are probably beyond my pay grade to discuss. Essentially Americans are valuing their dogs over the lives of Afghanis who have the right to leave Afghanistan and find new homes abroad. It is an interesting concept. Of course, cats are completely out of the picture which I find unfortunate but I guess none are owned by US embassy employees or the military.

However, cats are in the picture with respect to Nowzad, the animal sanctuary run by Mr Farthing who reunites service personnel with companion animals when they return home. These do include cats by the way. Although, I suspect, most of them are dogs. And in an ironic twist, the UK government has barred Mr Farthing, his employees and his large number of rescue animals (200) from leaving Kabul on a chartered aircraft, funded privately, because of bio-security fears. Also, the UK Ministry of Defence don’t like the look of animals being shipped out for the reasons stated on this page. It’s prioritizing animals over humans – an unacceptable decision in the eyes of many. That’s my interpretation of the decision. Mr Quinton of the MoD is apparently responsible for this prohibition. I have written about that in a previous post (click link above).

One person commented:

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“the people you abandoned today usa, The plane was carrying dogs while afghans who were american facilitators, assistants and even those who spied 4 u against their country men were running down the olane. utter inhuman. [sic].”

There is of course a counterargument that these are service animals who have provided a valuable service while in Afghanistan and protecting the people. But that seems to mean that they are valued higher than dogs who are not service animals. Is that correct? Ans are dogs to be valued more highly than cats? It’s an impossible philosophical question. I suspect that whatever the US does they’re going to be criticised. Perhaps the answer turns on the fact that these are service dogs and effectively employees of the military and the US embassy.

The root cause of the problem is not selecting a dog over in Afghanistan citizen to be evacuated but the chaotic organisation of the evacuation which is putting inordinate time pressure on the organisers which in turn will inevitably lead to some people and even some animals being left behind.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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