British ex-marine escapes Kabul with 200 cats and dogs
Former Royal Marine Paul 'Pen' Farthing who founded an animal shelter in Afghanistan secured a safe passage out of the country with around 200 cats and dogs. Farthing, who was stuck in Thursday's Kabul airport bomb blasts, landed at Heathrow Airport on Sunday morning.
A privately funded chartered plane carried Farthing and his animals to London, raising questions about the relative value placed on human and animal lives.
Farthing's charity confirmed that he and the animals left the country without his staff. After arriving in Heathrow, Farthing tweeted that he had "mixed emotions and true deep feeling of sadness for Afghan."
Iain McGill, a veterinarian involved in the campaign, said the animals appeared healthy and had been placed in quarantine.
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Farthing and his supporters campaigned to have his staff, their families and 140 dogs and 60 cats evacuated from the country in a plan he named Operation Ark.
Farthing was eligible for evacuation in Britain's military airlift along with Afghan members of his staff and their families. However, he refused to leave without the animals.
In the tweet, Farthing said that he arrived at Heathrow with a "partial success" of Operation Ark. He added that he had "witnessed first hand the compassion Heathrow is showing Afghan refugees."
After serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, the former Royal Marine, who is from Dovercourt in Essex, set up the Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul.
"The Operation Ark mission is still ongoing and we are working tirelessly to ensure that we reach a positive conclusion for our staff," the Farthing's charity said in a statement.
Animal welfare campaigner Dominic Dyer, who has acted as a UK-based spokesman for Farthing, said that the Taliban guards would not let the Afghan staff enter, even though they had papers permitting them to come to the UK, AP reported. He said Nowzad would continue to work to get them safely to Britain.