Ex-Royal Marine works to save homeless dogs in war torn Afghanistan

Ex-Royal Marine works to save homeless dogs in war torn Afghanistan
Pen Farthing with some of the rescued dogs at the NOWZAD shelter outside Kabul on May 1, 2012

"Dogs have been proven to help post-traumatic stress and the soldiers who adopt them are addressing this," said Paul “ Pen” Farthing, founder of British charity Nowzad, which has been rescuing dogs in war torn Afghanistan since 2007, and finding them new homes with soldiers returning to the US, Canada, and Britain, as well as in the Netherlands, Australia and South Africa. In fact, Nowzad has already provided homes to over 330 dogs.

Farthing, an ex-Royal Marine began his charity shortly after adopting his own dog named Nowzad (after the Taliban stronghold of Helmand) five years ago. He now sees to it that stray animals (including cats) are neutered and given rabies shots before beginning their journeys to new homes abroad to live with veterans who end up shelling out more than $3000 each to bring them to safety. He noted that Kabul is “home to thousands of stray dogs, and many are shot and killed.”

Farthing also stressed that his organization depends solely on donations for funding.

Most of the dogs come from areas where the fighting is the most extreme, in the southern strongholds controlled by Taliban insurgents, yet, Farthing noted that they are seeing “more soldier rescues than ever before. When you're being shot at by the Taliban every day, dogs give you that little bit of normality," he said.

Concerned over what will happen to many of these animals once the NATO troops withdraw from the country, NOWZAD is also working to encourage more adoptions by Afghans, themselves, despite obstacles including a Muslim aversion to keeping dogs, whom they deem as “unclean,” as well as poverty among the populace which prevents them from keeping cats and dogs as pets. However, the group has seen more families in the country begin to take them in, and several have vowed to take over administration of the organization there once foreign troops are gone.

In the meantime, NOWZAD is trying desperately to raise $250,000 to purchase land in Kabal for a new shelter before their old one is lost in July. If not, they will be forced to close and the fate of the 90 dogs currently being kept there remains uncertain.

It should be also noted that there are other members of the military striving to provide homes for strays rescued in Afghanistan on their own as well. Among these are the family of Adam Wakefield who raised $3,500 to bring a six month old mutt named Mo to their home in Clinton, CT after the army told him he had to get rid of the dog in 2010. Mo was taken in by Adam’s brother, Brian.

Readers interested in helping to support NOWZAD, or even (perhaps) adopt an animal in need and bring it to safety here in Connecticut can learn more by visiting http://www.nowzad.com/

For a related article please read Diana’s columns http://www.examiner.com/article/soldiers-reunited-with-dogs-they-left-behind and http://www.examiner.com/article/saving-sergeant-rex