Animal charity Nowzad might finally leave Kabul with cats and dogs

A white and light brown dog looks into the camera.
Dog Tela at the shelter in Kabul, photo: Facebook page Nowzad

Pen Farthing, founder of the animal charity Nowzad, has been fighting to evacuate his staff and animals since the Taliban took over Kabul. And it seems that he might finally be able to leave on Wednesday or Thursday with his team and animals.

His staff was cleared to leave Afghanistan two days ago, but his 140 dogs and 60 cats weren’t. But early Wednesday, the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, tweeted that he could leave with his animals.

“Now that Pen Farthing’s staff have been cleared to come forward under LOTR [Leave Outside The Rules], I have authorized MOD [Ministry of Defence] to facilitate their processing alongside all other eligible personnel at HKIA [Kabul Airport],” he said. “At that stage, if he arrives with his animals, we will seek a slot for his plane.”

On Tuesday, Nowzad announced they had privately chartered a plane, funded by donations, to fly to Kabul and pick up all staff and animals, dubbed as Operation Ark.

But Wallace said the problem wasn’t the plane but getting people safely through the airport. He added that he prioritised people over animals, and since thousands of people were still trying to leave, Farthing’s animals had to wait.

This caused online outrage, with British actor Ricky Gervais weighing in pointing out that the animals would be in the cargo area, where people can’t go, and the extra, privately funded plane would allow more people to be saved.

Farthing also said that the argument for saving people above animals was strange since, according to him, Wallace ‘rescued’ a car from Kabul.

It seems that Wallace has now, under public pressure, allowed the animals to be boarded at the airport in Kabul and leave for England.

According to English actor and animal rights activist Peter Egan, Farthing and his team and animals have been given permission to leave today (Wednesday), adding that the most challenging task will be to get to the airport safely.

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