The U.S. military has replied to PETA’s letter about recent reports that dogs—including working dogs, animal companions of evacuated Americans, and rescued animals—were left in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Army sent us this response:
I can report that the U.S. military did not leave any dogs in cages at the airport. … During the extremely complicated and dangerous final phases of the retrograde mission, U.S. forces went to great lengths to help the Kabul Small Animal Rescue facilitate the evacuation of more than 150 stray Afghan dogs. These dogs were not permitted on military evacuation flights due to regulations, but the Kabul Small Animal Rescue claimed to have arranged a chartered plane to rescue the animals. Unfortunately, that plane did not arrive, leaving no options to evacuate the dogs. U.S. forces identified that the only reasonable and humane course of action was to relocate the dogs to a former Afghan National Army compound on the airport grounds with appropriate supplies of food and water. This compound was relatively self-contained and provided for adequate space and grass area. Working tirelessly through the night of August 29 and into the morning of August 30, dedicated U.S. Soldiers transported more than 150 dogs in crates down the airfield to the compound—no easy task under the best of circumstances, but particularly challenging during the hazardous final stages of our withdrawal. Finally, before our forces’ departure from Kabul, our Soldiers showed the owner/operator of Kabul Small Animal Rescue where our forces had released the dogs, and she acknowledged that our forces had exercised the only option available at that point. She also indicated that she intended to return to the airport in the coming days to gather the dogs and get them on a charter plane to forever homes outside of Afghanistan, and it’s our sincere hope that she is successful in that effort.
PETA is in direct contact with Kabul Small Animal Rescue, which has verified that by the time the dogs were “released,” relocating them (as described above) was the only possible solution. But Kabul Small Animal Rescue maintains that its staff was trying to get animals out and needed more time, which was not granted. It remains committed to the welfare and safety of the many dogs in its charge and is continuing to work on the situation.
Thank you to all of you who took action! Please be aware that much of the information circulating online, while perhaps well intentioned, is not accurate. When updates of interest become available and can safely be shared, we will post them here. Thank you again for your compassion and action for animals.