Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing and cats and dogs were evacuated from Kabul Airport at 4:30 PM Saturday 28th August. Please read on.
This is a quick note about the rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and what might ensue. The truth is we don’t know for sure because their history is frankly appalling in terms of human and animal rights and particularly women’ rights. They profess to have ‘evolved’ to use the words of their spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid. He said:
“But when it comes to wisdom, maturity and vision there is difference. It’s a kind of evolution”.
He was responding to a question as to whether they are the old Taliban or a new more enlightened version. We’ll wait and see but the ex-marine, Mr Pen Farthing who runs the distinguished Kabul animal rescue organisation he set up called Nowzad, said:
“The Taliban banned dog ownership when in power last time, and it’s just too much of a risk.”
The Taliban shot two dogs belonging to a friend of Mr Farthing, Dave, soon after he evacuated Kabul. Dave had to leave his dogs behind. One was Brutus. Dave texted Farthing with this message: “The bastards just shot Brutus. They went round the compound, saw the dogs, dragged them into the open and shot them”. Also, Farthing believes that one dog was stabbed by the Taliban when they drove through a checkpoint, the Daily Mail reports. Finally, a dog belonging to a female Afghan MP still in Afghanistan was hanged by the Taliban she said when speaking to Stig Abell and Aasmah Mir on Times Radio (reported in The Times 2nd Sept 2021).
He was talking about the possibility of having to euthanize some of his dogs. He has many dogs and cats at his rescue plus other animals. The Taliban practice animal racism. It’s called speciesism. They accept domestic cats because the Prophet Muhammad liked them. But Muslims regard the dog as unclean. One of their hadiths says that if a dog eats from a plate it has to be washed seven times with water and sand etc.. To be frank and with respect, it is all mumbo-jumbo and completely unfair to brand dogs as unclean. It is a ridiculous throwback to the sixth century A.D. Can you believe that they have brought forward a culture from the sixth century A.D. into the 21st century?
If the Taliban really want to evolve into a more enlightened version of themselves, they should seriously contemplate providing equality to both cats and dogs and men and women. It seems to me that women are put in the category of dogs and men are put into the category of cats. It’s something like that and it is bizarre.
The Islam faith has a very difficult relationship with dogs. On 29 Jan 2019, the BBC reported that there were plans to stop dog walking in Tehran, Iran; another example of antagonistic speciesism directed at the humble domestic dog.
One expert, a mufti, Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, said that Muslims are discouraged to keep dogs in their homes. He referred to a hadith from the Prophet that deemed a dog’s lick as unclean (najis). They regard the saliva of dogs as harmful and they base this on science nowadays. Once again this is misguided because dog saliva is no more harmful than cat saliva or human saliva except humans brush their teeth which helps to reduce bacteria.
There are over 600 types of bacteria known to live in the mouths of humans and dogs (Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM). Most of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth are not zoonotic (can’t cause disease in humans). One newspaper reported that cat saliva is slightly worse than dog saliva.
When are leading Muslims going to open the science books and read up about it? Have they ever done this? They say that keeping dogs is inappropriate called “makruth”. As stated, they are deeply misguided and it leads to cruelty against dogs. Shame on them.
If dogs are accepted by the Taliban, it is in relation to owning them for dog fighting. There is a long history of Afghanis enjoying the brutal pastime of dog fighting. It is a very backward culture in respect of animal welfare.
Nowzad evacuation saga
Update on Nowzad animal and staff rescue: Mr Farthing’s Nowzad has been given clearance to fly his 200 animals and 24 staff (believed) out of Kabul to the UK by Wallace the UK’s Defense Secretary. It is believed that Carrie Johnson intervened and asked her husband to tell Wallace to change his mind as he had earlier refused clearance (denied by Johnson). The flight is privately funded via donations. A wonderful effort. It will be a tough time for the animals as they’ll have to spend a long time in quarantine in the UK. If the Taliban’s reputation had been better, Nowzad cold have remained. Afghanistan needs a Nowzad. What about the pets left behind by the 100,000 people who’ve been evacuated? They need rescuing I suspect.
Since writing the paragraph above I have learned that it is incredibly difficult to get to the airfield because of the danger from suicide bombs (Aug 26) and the Taliban forbidding the evacuation of Afghan people. Farthing later said that five of his cats died of shock on their way to Hamid Karzai airport.
Some of the Nowzad staff are Afghans. I’ll update this page when there is good news that he has got out. It is going to be a near miracle to achieve it. Hours ago, Mr Farthing said that his animals are in carriers in stifling heat inside a vehicle waiting to be taken to the aircraft. They were blocked from getting to the aircraft and Farthing believes that his animals will die unless he gets them out of the cages and into the plane.
Latest news Aug 27 at 5:49 PM this tweet indicates that Farthing and his animals plus staff will be evacuated. Great news if it actually happens (it is happening as I type this!). The plane is in Karachi. It will fly to Kabul where the military will load the animals. However, Nowzad staff will not be evacuated. The aircraft will fly to Uzbekistan initially I believe. British military personnel assisted Farthing and animals to get into the airport.
It is emerging that the Ministry of Defence could have acted earlier which would have allowed Nowzad staff to evacuate as well. The MOD is accused of being obstructive by Farthing’s supporters in England.
This is the actor Peter Egan who is a committed animal advocate updating us on this story:
.@rickygervais @BorisJohnson @DominicRaab @pritipatel A horrible situation now for Pen & his inspiring team and his animals sweltering outside the airport gates. Come on U.K. govt get the gates open. @PenFarthing @Nowzad pic.twitter.com/sz4KGNYFFX
— Peter Egan (@PeterEgan6) August 26, 2021
Boris Johnson denies intervening to get the MOD to change their mind or to force along the evacuation of the animals. Perhaps his wife intervened instead. I’d be surprised if she didn’t. Lord Goldsmith might have helped too.
Aug 28 at 14:34: The Telegraph reported two hours ago the Farthing and the animals would be leaving Kabul airport in 2 hours! They should or could be in the air.
Final update as at 18:39 on 29th August: Mr Farthing has landed at Heathrow with his cats and dogs. Apparently, his flight from Kabul stopped off at Muscat. I had earlier stated that he might have been flying to Uzbekistan first and then onto Heathrow but that appears to be an incorrect. Mr Farthing then took a connecting flight to Oslo to see his wife who had evacuated Afghanistan last week.
The cats and dogs are in quarantine as per the usual procedures. No doubt they will be assessed by veterinarians for any diseases. The quarantine will last for four months which is going to be incredibly difficult for the animals but no doubt Mr Farthing will do his best to ensure that they are treated as kindly as possible. News media reports that most of the animals have homes earmarked already. They’ll be popular.
We are also told in a report by The Daily Mail that the Nowzad shelter staff are in their homes which implies that Nowzad is currently shut down. I don’t know what has happened to the other animals because there were more animals than cats and dogs at the shelter.
There were seats available on Mr Farthing’s plane for human evacuees and an appeal was put out of the British government to see if those seats could be filled. They were told that there was no one available in Kabul at that time to fill those empty seats! This runs entirely counter to what we are reading in the news media about the British government leaving behind thousands of people!
Aug 28 at 20:49: News media reports that Farthing and 94 dogs and 79 cats took off from Kabul Airport at 4:30 PM today, Saturday.
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