Ex-marine given fresh hope over plea to rescue his 200 cats and dogs from Kabul

Ex-marine Pen Farthing will be able to airlift staff and 200 animals out of Afghanistan
Pen Farthing was told he would have to leave the animals in the country as people are being prioritised (Picture: AP)
An animal rescue charity may be able to fly hundreds of cats and dogs out of Afghanistan after all following a change in tone by the defence secretary. Ex-soldier Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing is trying to evacuate all his staff and animals from the Nowzad shelter in Kabul after the Taliban seized control in the country.

He’s been told all 68 employees and their dependants will be evacuated by the RAF but they would have to leave the animals behind as people are taking precedence.

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The group’s supporters have raised enough donations to charter a private plane which has been placed on standby to fly to Kabul.

But, with thousands of people still trying to leave the country, it was previously thought the authorities wouldn’t sign off the paperwork to get the animals through the airport and the plane would ‘sit there empty.’

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, offered a glimmer of hope in a series of tweets early on Wednesday. Mr Wallace said if Mr Farthing arrived at the airport with his staff and animals, officials would seek to facilitate their departure aboard the chartered aircraft.

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He added if Mr Farthing and his staff chose not to bring the animals they could board an RAF flight, as all had been granted leave outside the immigration rules (LOTR) to fly to the UK.
Undated handout photo of Pen Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad, who has pleaded to the British government to withdraw his staff from Kabul. Farthing, a former Royal Marine Commando, is campaigning for the government to have 71 people flown to the UK from Afghanistan after Taliban seized the city. Issue date: Monday August 16, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Nowzad/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Pen Farthing chartered a plane to evacuate his staff and his animals (Picture: PA)

‘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,’ Mr Wallace tweeted.

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‘If he does not have his animals with him he and his staff can board an RAF flight. I have been consistent all along, ensuring those most at risk are processed first and that the limiting factor has been flow THROUGH to airside NOT airplane capacity.’

Mr Farthing has previously said the animals would be transported in the aircraft’s hold and that, once his staff were accommodated, any spare seats on the plane could be filled by other people cleared for passage by UK authorities, with the flight able to take 250 passengers in total.

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Mr Farthing, who set up the charity after serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, has dubbed the plan ‘Operation Ark.’
epa09418812 A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows British citizens and dual nationals residing boarding a military plane at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 16 August 2021 (issued 18 AAugust 2021) As part of Operation PITTING, the UK Armed Forces are enabling the evacuation of British personnel from Afghanistan. On 16 August the first flight of evacuated personnel arrived at RAF Brize Norton in the UK. The flight constituted of British Embassy staff and British Nationals. EPA/LPhot Ben Shread/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: MOD/CROWN COPYRIGHT ATTTENTION EDITORS: ** Some blurring of faces has been applied to protect identities ** ** Some blurring of faces has been applied by source to protect identities ** HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Time is running out to get people out of Afghanistan (Picture: EPA)
He’s hoping to bring the 140 dogs and 60 cats to the UK to rehome them with Brits. Earlier, a Nowzad supporter in the UK, veterinary surgeon Dr Iain McGill, had said people were ready to take in the animals. ‘Pen has got transport for all the staff and animals and himself safely to the airport,’ Dr McGill said.

‘In the airport they can wait for a few days until the plane arrives, they just need to get safe. Pen doesn’t have that long a window because of the military operation.’

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Undated handout photo of Paul ' Pen ' Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad, who has pleaded to the British government to withdraw his staff from Kabul. Farthing, a former Royal Marine Commando, is campaigning for the government to have 71 people flown to the UK from Afghanistan after Taliban seized the city. Issue date: Monday August 16, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Nowzad/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Pen Farthing says he will given spare seats in his planes to Afghans who want to leave the country (Picture: PA)

Yesterday, Mr Wallace had suggested Mr Farthing should leave the animals behind and seek to take them out of Afghanistan at a later time.

Foreign forces facilitating evacuations appear set to leave the country in a week, with US president Joe Biden on Tuesday refusing to prolong his August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of his troops. Mr Wallace told Sky News he did not believe the Taliban’s ‘main point of target’ would be Mr Farthing’s staff and animals ‘compared to some of those other people desperate in front of the queue’.

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He said once evacuation efforts were over he believed that if Mr Farthing ‘wants to repatriate the pets that he looks after and the strays, I genuinely believe that they will be allowed to move forward at a later date when that airport opens’.

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