All animal rescue organizations are special, but it’s those working in war torn countries that make my heart ache. Trying to place a stray animal in a developed country like the United States is hard enough. Can you imagine doing that in a chaotic and dangerous place like Afghanistan or Iraq? Not only are you dealing with the dangers of war, but you’re battling with cultural differences when it comes to the treatment of animals.
Nowzad Dogs is a five year old organization that has helped countless animals off the brutal streets of Afghanistan and Iraq, housing them within their shelter and in some cases helping transport them to adoptive homes in the US, Canada and the UK. They’ve also helped soldiers deployed in the Middle East bring home both cats and dogs they’ve befriended on the battleground. Nowzad was started in 2007, six months after Sergeant Pen Farthing and the Royal Marines were first stationed in the war torn town of Now Zad in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Pen had broken up a dog fight when he first arrived in town, and soon after one of the dogs wouldn’t leave his side. It wasn’t long before the Marine was caring for four dogs and 14 puppies!
Pen knew the dogs couldn’t stay on the base forever and needed to come up with a plan to get the dogs to a better life. He tracked down a rescue center in the far north and now had to figure out how to transport the 19 dogs without the help of military transport.
So the difficult task of persuading a local Afghanistan driver to take the dogs all the way to the rescue in the north — a journey of several days — began. Eventually we found a taxi that would take the dogs some of the way to Lashkar Gar and then they would be exchanged with another driver for the journey to Kandahar and then swapped yet again into another vehicle for the drive to the rescue. We had a few issues with this as we knew that the vehicles would be stopped by the Taliban at road blocks and for that reason the driver wouldn’t let us put the dogs in cages, (a very British thing to do – definitely not an Afghan method of transporting dogs), so we had to tie the dogs up with rope and put the puppies into small crates, (Jena’s puppies went into an old bird cage!), not something we were entirely comfortable with – but what else we were to do?
Three of the dogs and 13 puppies made it to the rescue center. Two of the dogs had escaped when the car door was left open, and one of the puppies had been stolen.
Despite the losses, Pen and the Royal Marines were successful in giving the rest of the dogs a chance at a better life and wanted to do more so the charity Nowzad Dogs was formed in May 2007. The group soon opened a shelter in Kabul where they care for close to a hundred stray dogs and cats while they look for permanent homes for them. Unfortunately, the amazing work Nowzad has done may come to an end if they can’t get help financing a new shelter.
Recently, Nowzad Dogs land rental agreement was revoked and close to a hundred dogs had to be moved to a temporary shelter that is still being built! The group can only use the land for three months, after which they will be completely homeless. Pen and his team of tireless volunteers is trying to raise enough money ($250K) to buy a plot of land and build a permanent base that includes kennels, medical clinic and staff accommodation. They also hope to operate a large scale ‘trap neuter release’ program.
Unfortunately, according to Pen, “The coalition forces and civilian contractors have pushed the price of land through the roof.” Sigh. The group only has until July to raise enough funds to make this happen. Can you donate? Pawesome is sending them some much needed funds now. Please join us!
Image: Nowzad Dogs