Nowzad is a famous animal rescue based in Kabul; founded and managed by a former Royal Marine, Pen Farthing. He had completed two tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and decided to set up his charity to reunite soldiers with the animals they had bonded with after they return home. He has condemned the withdrawal of Allied forces from Afghanistan. He employs 24 local people, all Afghan nationals including women (update: The Times reports 71 staff in their 18-8 article). He is terrified both for the welfare of his employees, especially the women, and for his rescue animals.
Note and update: this is a fluid story. It has been updated several times. Please see updates below. The news as at Aug 28, 2021 is that Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing is inside Kabul Airport with his animals waiting to board an aircraft to fly to Uzbekistan (believed) and thence to the UK. He has been forced to leave his staff behind. It is a major result after massive pressure and heartaches. A huge saga of frustration, danger and distress for human and animal alike. – Click this for more details.
He says that the Taliban are not known for their human rights, never mind animal rights. They are very well known for their violently misogynistic behaviour. He said that he can come home to Britain but his female staff have got nowhere to go.
At present, his rescue centre has 140 dogs, 60 cats, 12 donkeys, two horses, a goat and a bull. He said:
“We know from prior experience the Taliban don’t have much thought for human life, let alone animal welfare. And the fact that we employ women to actually support that animal welfare. We are desperately worried and concerned and I think probably now a very real sinking realisation that we may well have to just put all our animals to sleep because that’ll be the kindest thing to do.”
It will break his heart and the hearts of his staff he said. Over the years Nowzad reunited more than 1,600 soldiers with stray dogs and cats that the soldiers had rescued from the frontline, since the rescue was founded. He ships cats and dogs from Afghanistan to the USA when the soldiers return after their tour of duty. It is an awesome operation. The fundraising is extraordinary. To employ 68 staff is amazing.
I sincerely hope he and his staff and the animals are okay. He deserves to be left alone to get on with his invaluable work. You know, to have a rescue center like this in chaotic Kabul (which is my perception) is a jewel surrounded by disaster.
Update: I think that Mr Farthing has been talking about chartering an aircraft out of Kabul with staff and animals. Also, it appears that at present, which is the next day after the Taliban took control of Kabul and Afghanistan, they are allowing people to behave fairly normally. If that is the case then it would give Mr Farthing time to make sure that the animals were protected and his staff. This may not pan out as predicted i.e. it might work out better than predicted but it is too early to tell.
Further update 18 Aug: Mr Farthing tells us in The Times today that “The Taliban banned dog ownership when in power last time. And it’s just too much of a risk. Never, ever did I want to put dogs to sleep.” – click for Taliban accept cats but reject dogs (speciesism).
Further update 25 Aug: The UK government first refused the immigration of Farthing’s animals because they did not want animals to be evacuated before people (a bad look they said) despite the flight being funded privately (he raised more than £200,000). The UK gov. changed their mind (denied). Nowzad animals (and the staff?) will fly to the UK as I understand it. It appears that the change of heart can be put down to Carrie Johnson putting pressure on her husband, the Prime Minister, to tell Wallace the Defense Secretary to change his mind (also denied!). It is great to have an animal advocate at the heart of the UK government. Note: Nowzad staff have all been granted visas as I understand it. They’ll all come to the UK with the animals. That’s the way I see it unfolding. Boris Johnson said:
“We will do everything we can to help Farthing […] without jeopardising our national security.”
Wallace denies that he blocked the flight. He said that he did not want queue jumping. How can it be queue jumping of Nowzad have their own aircraft primed and really to take off paid for privately?
Further update: Mr Farthing is about to give up and return to the UK without the animals. His staff think he should evacuate. He blames Biden for changing the rules which means he got into the airport perimeter but they would not allow him on a plane with his animals. His privately funded charter plane is still in Luton, England and so he’s currently reliant on C-17s. It is a complete mess. Click this for more updates.
Associated: An example of a cat who suffered from PTSD
SOME MORE ON ANIMAL RESCUE: