No, Army Didn’t Leave Working Dogs Behind, DoD Says
The Pentagon pushes back after a widely circulated photo of working dogs caged in an aircraft hangar at Hamid Karzai International Airport led social media providers to believe the US left behind working dogs military work.
The Pentagon said no military working dogs were left in Afghanistan when US troops withdrew from Afghanistan on August 31.
“To correct erroneous reports, the U.S. military has left no dogs at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including ‘military working dogs,'” Eric Pahon, a Department of Defense spokesman, wrote. in an email to the Military Times.
The Department of Defense stresses that while people were the focus of evacuation efforts, the US government made it a priority to make sure its working dogs got home, Pahon said.
“We’re investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in these dogs,” Pahon said. “We wouldn’t leave them behind.
An earlier statement released by the American Humane Society said the dogs left at the airport were contract military dogs, owned by private companies.
“I am devastated by reports that the US government is withdrawing from Kabul and leaving behind brave working dogs under US military contract who will be tortured and killed by our enemies,” Dr. Robin R. Ganzert wrote. , President and CEO of American Human. “These brave dogs do the same dangerous and life-saving work as our military working dogs, and deserved a far better fate than they were condemned to.”
A voluntary organization called Kabul Small Animal Rescue (RASK) has representatives on the ground in Afghanistan working to rescue contract dogs stranded in Kabul, Pahon said.
“The photos circulating online were of animals in the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue,” he added. “Despite a complicated and dangerous retrograde mission underway, U.S. forces have gone to great lengths to assist Kabul Small Animal Rescue as much as possible.”
Although KSAR raised money to secure a charter flight to get the dogs to safety, no plane ever landed.
Pahon estimated that there were around 150 contracted dogs left in the field.
One of the contracting companies identified as having ground dogs is GardaWorld. Although it did not specify how many dogs GardaWorld has in Kabul, its media relations team said it was working with KSAR to bring them all home safely.
“Our team has worked tirelessly with many dedicated charities to save our dogs and all animals in KSAR’s care,” the team said in a statement to the Military Times. “We have no intention of abandoning our dogs, despite the grueling setbacks, and will continue to work with a growing and dedicated team to evacuate all of our dogs.”
Kabul Small Animal Rescue did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
[This article is being updated as new information becomes available.]
Sarah Sicard is an editor at the Military Times. Previously, she served as digital editor of the Military Times and editor-in-chief of the Army Times. Other work can be found in National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose and Defense News.