After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US by Afghanistan, the US swore to stop the War on Terror by removing the Taliban from power. On October 7, 2001, the US-led coalition launched missile and air attacks in Afghanistan and after years of what seemed like a terminated threat, the Taliban are back after a poor withdrawal plan set in motion by President Joe Biden. They are gunning for those who worked with the US or NATO and are doing everything possible to find them, including going door to door. As the war intensifies, an ex-marine will not leave Kabul without his animal rescue staff, which is such a brave thing to do considering how determined the Taliban are. Check out his attempts and his disappointment in the British government for how it is handling the situation.
A Bond between Dog and Man Formed
You might wonder how a marine got involved with animal rescuing, but it all started back in 2006. According to BBC, Paul Farthing, nicknamed Pen, was in Afghanistan with his troops when they came across two dogs fighting. They broke up the fight but one of the dogs, instead of going back, followed Pen. For six months, the canine stuck by the marine’s side, and since the fight that led to the pair crossing paths was in Nawzad, Pen named the dog Nowzad. His deployment ended, and the marine did not want to leave the companion behind, so he took him to the UK. Seeing how well they had bonded, Pen decided to extend the feeling of happiness he has with Nowzad by connecting other marines with the animals they bonded with while in Afghanistan. As a result, a charity, Nowzad, was born. So far, the organization has helped reunite 1,600 soldiers with the animals they rescued and bonded with, and currently, the charity is caring for over 140 dogs and 40 cats. Of course, the successful operation of the charity could not be possible without the animal rescue shelter staff, so it makes sense that Pen does not want to leave them behind where their fate is sealed-̶ death because of associating with the enemy. He’s doing everything he can to save the lives of his animals and his staff.
Nobody Gets Left Behind
“Leave no one behind” is a phrase you must have heard the military throwing around saying they will do whatever it takes to rescue stranded comrades. Pen is living up to this principle by saying he will not leave Kabul until the rescue staff and the animals have been saved. According to i News, he wants to fly the 25 Afghan employees and over 200 animals to Britain because he fears the teenage daughters of the shelter staff will be turned into sex slaves. As for his animals, he fears the donkeys, a cow, cats, dogs, a goat, and horses will be left stranded in the streets with no one to look after them. While the staff faces execution, he is afraid that some animals will have to be euthanized if he cannot get them out of the country. He disclosed he only has 65 spaces, so of the 140 dogs, the old and injured ones will have to be put down, which breaks his heart. The sadness transformed into numbness, but when the day finally comes, and he has to put down his dogs, he is sure the bitterness will return. Faced with such desperation, Pen said he was trying not to panic. However, he called for the British government to step in and said the Western governments had disappointed him. The ex-marine was angry that some British soldiers have died in vain because the government is slow to respond to the situation. Instead of folding arms and waiting for the British government to send help, Pen proactively seeks public help. According to Third Sector, after urging the government to assist his employees and their families, Pen decided to take matters into his own hands. He launched “Operation Ark” to raise enough money to rescue the staff and animals. By August 19, 2021, the funds raised had reached £200,000, which was more than enough for the evacuation.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
Even after declaring they had raised more than enough money for evacuation efforts, Pen knew evacuation was only the first step towards helping the staff and animals. Therefore, he urged people to donate to help the charity secure its legacy in the UK or another country. The ex-marine had revealed that although he was bent on flying all the employees to the UK at first, it reached a point where all he cared about was getting them out; it did not matter to which country. As he continues to fight hard to keep those he cares about safe, Pen still had to deal with the fright that his wife, too, would not make it out of Kabul. According to The Sun, Pen had tried evacuating his wife, Kaisa Markhus, on August 17, 2021, but she was crushed in the stampede as other Brits also struggled to make their way to the airport. Markhus and a pregnant colleague were denied entry to the airfield by the US and UK troops. Pen was mad that instead of helping the women, the troops groped and shoved them away. Luckily, on August 20, 2021, Pen shared a photo showing that his wife had managed to get on an evacuation flight. However, they had to go at night to avoid the thousands of people who flock to the airport every day. Pen said that although traveling at night was risky, it was the lesser of two evils, and the risk paid off. Still, he was shocked that the plane his wife flew on was almost empty, yet James Heappey told BBC Radio 4 that they are flying at maximum capacity aiming at 1,000 people daily. Despite the evidence of a photo that the ex-marine shared, ministers keep denying planes are not at maximum capacity when leaving Kabul. All the same, we can only hope that Pen’s desires to evacuate his animals and shelter staff are fulfilled before the worst happens.