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New hope for Pen Farthing’s shelter staff and 200 animals to evacuate Afghanistan

pen farthing and dr hamida holding puppies dog-cat-happy © Pen Farthing - Facebook

Ever since the Taliban took over Kabul, chaos has reigned over Afghanistan and its people. Thousands are trying to evacuate – and Pen Farthing is one of them.

By Justine Seraphin

Published on the , Updated on the

It’s been a week of constant back and forth for the Nowzad team. Pen Farthing has been trying, like many other Western residents in Afghanistan, to evacuate the country. But from the start, he has been saying that he would not leave without his staff or animals. 

At first, it seemed to be a battle lost as Pen and his team had no access to a cargo plane or a safe route to the airport. But thanks to his devoted followers, things may have just turned in Nowzad’s favour.

Keyboard warriors to the rescue

Early last week, Pen asked his followers to bombard the Prime Minister and other politicians with messages making them aware of Nowzad’s situation. Thanks to a lot of lobbying, the government finally admitted they needed to do something to help – and Nowzad even got a mention in the House of Commons. Within that short span of time, Nowzad also received enough donations to charter a private Airbus. 

Following this, Boris Johnson ensured two days ago that he would provide Pen, his staff, their families and 200 of Nowzad’s animals with access to the airport and a flight out of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, hope was lost again when Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced in an interview yesterday that he would not prioritise pets over people if Pen arrived at the airport with his animals.

Newest announcement brings hope to Nowzad team

Pen again took to social media to remind followers that his pets would be riding in the cargo hold – where no humans could be anyway. Pen also made followers aware that an earlier plane out of Afghanistan carried a government car – so why not animals? After the information went viral, Boris Johnson pressured the Defence Secretary to change his speech.

Early this morning, Wallace announced in a series of tweets:

"Now that Pen Farthing's staff have been cleared to come forward under LOTR I have authorised MOD to facilitate their processing alongside all other eligible personnel at (Kabul airport). At that stage, if he arrives with his animals we will seek a slot for his plane."

There is now light at the end of the tunnel. Nowzad followers (us included!) are holding their breath in anticipation of what happens next. Hopefully, everything will run smoothly and Nowzad’s entire team will be able to evacuate within the next few days.

It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies – Nowzad had around 400 animals in their care. Some will stay behind at the shelter with a couple of team members who have elected to stay behind. The newest and healthiest rescues were released back into the streets. The oldest and sickest, unfortunately, had to be put down, as this was the most humane option for them.

Watch this space for updates on Nowzad’s situation! 

Read more about Nowzad:

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