All eight of Britain’s military working dogs in Afghanistan have been returned to the UK by the armed forces during the evacuation from Kabul with none left behind, MailOnline can reveal today.
The animals will all now continue as military service dogs in the UK – and none were left behind, a source said.
The UK’s approach is in contrast to that of America, which has abandoned dozens of contracted working dogs in Afghanistan along with up to 200 civilians and military equipment, according to an animal charity.
American Humane condemned the ‘death sentence’ for the animals who now face ‘torture’ at the hands of the Taliban, who took control of the city earlier this month. The animal welfare group called on Congress to rescue the purpose-trained dogs who perform a wide range of duties and work alongside military dogs.
It comes as British former Royal Marine Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing succeeded in controversially evacuating 150 dogs and cats to the UK from an animal shelter in Kabul over the weekend.
His campaign to get his animals to safety has become hugely topical, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace complaining it was distracting from the focus on evacuating the most vulnerable out of Afghanistan.
The news of the abandoned animals comes as the Taliban celebrated the full withdrawal of U.S. and western forces from Afghanistan after almost 20 years of occupation in the country.
Tuesday saw coffins draped with the US, UK and French flag as well as NATO’s insignia were paraded through the streets of Khost by crowds flying the Taliban’s emblem.
It comes after celebratory scenes in Kabul overnight, where fireworks exploded and gunfire rattled through the air moments after the final US jet departed.
Dozens of contracted working dogs have been abandoned by the US in Afghanistan after the troop withdrawal
Afghan Air Force’s A-29 attack aircraft and armoured vests are left on the ground inside a hangar at the airport in Kabul
American Humane’s CEO Robin R. Ganzert said in a statement: ‘I am devastated by reports that the American government is pulling out of Kabul and leaving behind brave US military contract working dogs to be tortured and killed at the hand of our enemies.
‘These brave dogs do the same dangerous, lifesaving work as our military working dogs, and deserved a far better fate than the one to which they have been condemned.
‘This senseless fate is made all the more tragic, as American Humane stands ready to not only help transport these contract K-9 soldiers to US soil but also to provide for their lifetime medical care.’
American Humane has worked with the military for more than a century to rescue stranded military animals, having previously worked in World War One.
Contract working dogs are normally owned by private contractors to work alongside military dogs who are owned by the Department of Defense, often performing similar duties.
Ganzert added: ‘As the country’s first national humane organization and largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, it sickens us to sit idly by and watch these brave dogs who valiantly served our country be put to death or worse.
‘In order to prevent this tragedy from occurring, these K-9’s should be loaded into whatever cargo space remains and flown to safety. Irrespective of the outcome, this gross oversight of justice must be stopped from happening again, as it did in Vietnam too.
Mr Farthing and his wife Kaisa were allowed to meet but not to touch due to quarantine rules
Pen Farthing, pictured with his wife Kaisa Markhus after they were reunited in Oslo, Norway
‘To that end, we call on Congress to take action to classify contract working dogs on the same level as military working dogs. Failure to do anything less, is a failure of humanity and a condemnation of us all.’
Pen Farthing says he’s ‘not worried about what some politician is saying about me’
A former Royal Marine who was criticised after leaving an expletive-laden message for a Government aide amid the evacuation of 150 dogs and cats from Afghanistan has said he is ‘not worried about what some politician is saying about me’.
Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing had apologised after a recording, obtained by The Times, captured him berating Peter Quentin, a special adviser to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and accusing the staffer of ‘blocking’ efforts to arrange the evacuation flight.
Following the privately funded charter flight’s arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport Mr Farthing, who was speaking from Oslo, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday he was ‘incredibly embarrassed about my language’ in the voicemail.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, he repeated his apology but appeared to shift the focus back to the Government and its allies’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. He told the paper: ‘I’ve apologised for the language I used but that’s it. I’m not worried about what some politician is saying about me. That’s not on my radar. What’s on my radar is that this ill-thought out withdrawal has destroyed a country overnight and cost countless lives.’
Sharing photos of dogs in cages stranded in Kabul, one person commented: ‘Not a great day for America’s service dogs that are still in the airport.’
The news that U.S. service dogs were left behind contrasts with the UK’s evacuation efforts, which saw almost 200 rescue dogs and cats saved from Kabul, along with Mr Farthing, who founded an animal rescue charity while in Afghanistan.
Mr Farthing’s campaign to get his animals to safety became hugely topical in Britain over the past fortnight, with some arguing that the choice to rescue the animals resulted in resources that could have been used to evacuate more people being occupied.
The veteran has said he is still working to help evacuate 68 Nowzad animal shelter staff and family members, including 25 children and one new-born baby, from Afghanistan as part of his Operation Ark campaign.
Along with the dogs, there are up to 200 US citizens still in Afghanistan after the US withdrew its final troops, bringing an end to the 20-year campaign.
Critics slammed Biden for breaking his promise to stay until all citizens were airlifted to safety after he pulled out the last forces 24 hours before the August 31 deadline.
The US has also abandoned as much as 70 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 27 Humvees and 73 aircraft in Afghanistan, although much of the equipment has been disabled.
General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the aircraft were ‘demilitarised,’ or rendered useless, before American troops wrapped up the two-week evacuation.
He said the Pentagon, which built up a force of nearly 6,000 troops to occupy and operate Kabul’s airport when the airlift began on August 14, left behind around 70 MRAP armoured tactical vehicles – which can cost up to $1 million a piece – that it disabled before leaving, and 27 Humvees.
Before the last US troops left, they disabled scores of aircraft and armoured vehicles – as well as a high-tech rocket defence system – at the airport, a US general said.
Cockpit windows had been shattered, instrument panels smashed, and aircraft tyres shot out.
The US has also abandoned as much as 70 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 27 Humvees and 73 aircraft in Afghanistan
Taliban fighters sit in the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul in the hours following the US departure
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre) spaks to the media in the shadow of a plane which the terror group have seized
Badri 313 units post for the cameras at Kabul airport today, carrying American-made rifles and wearing US military gear
The US also left behind but disabled the C-RAM system – counter rocket, artillery, and mortar – that was used to protect the airport from rocket attacks.
The system helped fend off a five-rocket barrage from the jihadist Islamic State group on Monday.
Amid the celebratory scenes in Afghanistan – and surrounded by Taliban special forces units dressed head to toe in American gear – spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid hailed the ‘victory’ over western forces.
‘It is an historical day and an historical moment…. we liberated our country from a great power,’ he added, saying the last 20 years should serve as a ‘big lesson for other invaders [and] a lesson for the world.’
Calling the day a ‘big lesson for other invaders and for our future generation,’ he then told gathered journalists: ‘It is an historical day and an historical moment. We are proud of these moments, that we liberated our country from a great power’.
Taliban fighters stand guard at the Hamid Karzai International Airport after US troops departed following a 20-year campaign in Afghanistan
The XVIII Airborne Corps released an image Monday of the last U.S. soldier to leave Afghanistan – Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division
Hundreds of American and British citizens were left behind when the last US evacuation plane took off late Monday, along with thousands of Afghans who helped western troops on a promise of sanctuary that was ultimately broken. Many now fear for their lives.
Mujahid insisted today that Taliban security forces will be ‘pleasant and nice’ to those left behind, despite reports already emerging of summary executions and persecution against women reminiscent of the Taliban of old.
Meanwhile at Bagram air base, the former stronghold of western forces, its new Taliban commander was boasting of having ‘beaten’ America using little more than Kalashnikov rifles while saying the airfield will now be ‘a base for jihad for all Muslims’.
Speaking to The Times, 35-year-old Maulawi Hafiz Mohibullah Muktaz said: ‘Never in our wildest dreams could we have believed we could beat a superpower like America with just our Kalashnikovs.
A Taliban fighter takes a picture of a damaged MD 530 helicopter that was abandoned at Kabul airport by retreating troops
An American MRAP vehicle is pictured at Kabul airport alongside other armoured vehicles after falling into Taliban hands
A Russian Mi-17 helicopter is pictured alongside Taliban fighters after it was seized from retreating western troops
Taliban fighters inspect a US Humvee at the airport in Kabul, after seizing a huge number of vehicles from western forces
‘When you do jihad all doors open, we defeated America with our faith and our guns and we hope now that Bagram can be a base for jihad for all Muslims
‘For any foreign power considering attacking Afghanistan then look at Bagram now and learn your lesson well before embarking on foolish endeavour. See the West’s mighty technology humbled here by mujahidin.
‘In 15 years as a mujahid fighting the Americans I wondered often if I may fail or die. Yet here is proof of the power of faith and God and jihad. On the back of victory I hope we can use Bagram as a place to spread jihad further into the region and Muslim world.’
Reflecting on America’s withdrawal from the other side of the conflict, General McKenzie said on Monday night: ‘There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure.
‘We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out,’ he insisted.