Former Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing boarded a private flight with all the animals from his Nowzad animal shelter and arrived safely in London. However, the Taliban prevented the organization’s staff from traveling with him. In addition, some authorities criticized him for “prioritizing” animal lives over human lives.
Last week, we told you about the efforts being made by former British royal marine Paul “Pen” Farthing to bring the nearly 200 animals from his Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul (Afghanistan) back to the UK.
After several days of petitions – and even some controversy with the British Defence Secretary– Farthing managed to get permission to move both the animals and the shelter’s staff. However, when the time arrived to do it, things weren’t as easy as they looked on paper.
When Pen arrived at the airport in the Afghan capital, he managed to get the 100 dogs and 70 cats onto the private flight he had arranged for the transfer, but unfortunately, 24 members of his staff were intercepted by Taliban control at the airport and denied permission to leave the country.
After a stopover in Muscat, the capital of Oman, Farthing and his animals arrived safely in London. For his part, the former marine immediately boarded another flight to Oslo, Norway, to meet his wife, while the animals remained in quarantine on British soil, awaiting transfer elsewhere.
“We arrived at Heathrow [London airport] with partial success of #OpArk. Mixed emotions and a true deep feeling of sadness for Afghan refugees (…) witnessed first-hand the compassion Heathrow is showing Afghan refugees.”
—Paul “Pen” Farthing on Twitter—
While the rescue of the animals was a success, the truth is that the outlook doesn’t look much brighter for both them and Farthing. The animals’ arrival was controversial for several authorities, who considered it inappropriate that several of the resources earmarked for the evacuation were used to move animals instead of people.
In fact, there are still 150 British nationals and 1,100 Afghans in Kabul who assisted the British in these efforts, a point emphasized by Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The difficulty is getting people into and out of the airport and we’ve just used a lot of troops to get in 200 dogs, meanwhile my interpreter’s family are likely to be killed. As one interpreter asked me a few days ago, ‘why is my five-year-old worth less than your dog?’”
—Tom Tugendhat via Daily Mail—
On the other hand, Farthing received the sad news that his animals will have to undergo a very strict quarantine once he arrives back in Britain, about four months in total. In addition, if any of these animals bring disease or any other danger, they will have to be euthanized, as indicated by local law.