Questions remain as Pentagon says there are no more military working dogs in Afghanistan

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Questions continue to swirl over the fate of dogs who were photographed left on the tarmac at Kabul airport as troops completed evacuation in Afghanistan as the Pentagon confirms there are none left dog under military guard.

American Humane said Monday that the Department of Defense left working dogs under military contract in cages on the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“I am devastated by reports that the US government is withdrawing from Kabul and leaving behind brave working dogs under US military contract who will be tortured and killed by our enemies. These brave dogs do the same dangerous and life-saving work as our military working dogs and deserved a far better fate than they were condemned to,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin R. Ganzert. “This insane fate is made all the more tragic because American Humane stands ready to not only help transport these K-9 contract soldiers to American soil, but to provide them with lifelong medical care.”

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Twitter on Tuesday that there are no longer any military dogs in Afghanistan, but the dogs pictured on the tarmac are from Kabul Small Animal Rescue.

The Defense Ministry spokesman said all military dogs that were in Afghanistan had left the country with their handlers.

However, questions about contract working dogs not being evacuated continue to circulate. Contract working dogs are trained by private contractors, not the government, for military operations.

The DoD spokesman said Kabul Small Animal Rescue chartered a contract plane to pick up the contract working dogs, but it never arrived. The fate of these dogs is currently unknown.

The International SPCA said on Tuesday that Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, and her partners continued to work tirelessly to evacuate Maxwell-Jones and the 130 dogs she cares for from Afghanistan. The ISPCA’s last contact with Maxwell-Jones was around 3 p.m. EST on Monday, August 30.

According to the international organization, although he was at the airport during the August 26 ISIS-K bombing and faced various threats, Maxwell-Jones is now off the grounds of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. On August 30, he said she was forced to leave the airport with just one puppy under her arm during the latest military evacuations. She was escorted by the Taliban to Kabul Small Animal Rescue, 11 km from the city. She remains at the shelter and is safe for now.

The ISPCA said that at the time of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Maxwell-Jones managed to save 46 working dogs and several personal pets belonging to fleeing American families. However, the majority of its staff and the cats in their care never had access to the airport. They are safe in Kabul in a separate location at this time.

Current information from the ISPCA indicates that the fate of the 130 dogs that Maxwell-Jones was forced to abandon by the Taliban is still unclear, despite ongoing efforts to confirm their whereabouts.

Ultimately, dogs and their guardians were never allowed to board military aircraft, and many private charter planes it had secured to accept dogs were not allowed, according to the ISPCA. to get to the airport. Maxwell-Jones was told most of the dogs were to be released at the airport when it was evacuated, turning formerly rescued shelter dogs into homeless strays.

“We are heartbroken that the plane we secured to transport the rescued dogs from Kabul Small Animal Rescue out of Afghanistan was ultimately not allowed to take the animals and their caretakers safely out of the country,” said Lori Kalef, director of programs at SPCA International. . “Our team worked around the clock and exhausted all possible options and resources in our dog rescue mission prior to the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. We will continue to do everything possible to evacuate personnel and animals from Kabul. Small Animal Rescue nationwide after August 31. We can’t thank our supporters enough for all they’ve done to help Kabul’s dogs and cats and their keepers.

The ISPCA said the dogs remained inside the airport in an area used to house employees at the end of the flight line. He was unable to confirm the number of dogs released or confirm whether the US military evacuated the 46 working dogs that were in KSAR’s care when they left. He continues to press for information, however, since the US military completely evacuated Kabul, information is more difficult to gather.

Moving forward, the ISPCA said KSAR’s main objective is to return to the airport, when it is safe and with the hope of Taliban cooperation, to attempt to recover or rescue animals that have been released. The situation remains dangerous, but KSAR hopes staff will be allowed back in to try and save the dogs. As she departed the airport, Maxwell-Jones asked the U.S. military to open any bags of dog food she was able to bring in and scatter the food in the area where the dogs had been released.

According to the ISPCA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently adopted a policy to suspend the transport of dogs from Afghanistan and more than 100 other countries to the United States, which contributed to the difficulties faced by Maxwell- Jones. The policy came after a spike in false rabies vaccination records. An emergency exemption has been requested so that Maxwell-Jones can leave with the dogs in the coming week, however, the CDC’s adherence to import policy during this time of crisis has put the animals and people at risk. people.

“This whole situation reminds us that when governments, including the United States, do not recognize the human connection with animals, they put people at risk. If Charlotte and her staff had been allowed to take their animals – with the support of private animal rescue groups who had paid for and arranged a charter flight – they would be safe, and so would the animals. Now she is still in Kabul, working desperately to bring these animals to a safer space,” an ISCPA spokesperson said. “Although this is our last chance to evacuate the dogs from Kabul before August 31, we are not giving up. We are currently researching options to transport the dogs and cats out of Afghanistan after this deadline, and funds that we have collected will continue to support animal care in Kabul. The SPCA International will continue to act as a conduit of information between KSAR and the public.”

The ISPCA said it urges the US military not to forget Afghanistan’s animals or the people who care for them. The military has been asked to share the latest information about the dogs at the airport and to work with the ISPCA on options for removing Maxwell-Jones and the dogs after Aug. 31. community too. He said he would continue to work with Maxwell-Jones to use every means possible to send him funding and logistical support.

“I am eternally grateful to our team, partners and all government agencies who have stepped up to lend their voices during this intense and challenging time. Charlotte’s courage and unwavering dedication to the rescued animals she cares for and the tireless efforts of all animal advocates involved around the world are awe-inspiring,” said Zach Skow, Founder of Marley’s Mutts. “We are committed to saving them and will continue to explore options to help her and the rescued dogs and cats leave Kabul safely. They deserve no less.

The DoD spokesman noted that the US military would never abandon its dogs, saying “to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”

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Bette C. Alvarado