US military denies leaving working dogs behind when it left Kabul
- Photos of dogs in cages at Kabul airport have led to allegations that the United States has left assistance dogs behind.
- An animal welfare group says the United States has issued a “death sentence” on working dogs.
- The Pentagon insists it did not leave any dogs in its care at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Pentagon pushes back on allegations that the US military left behind working dogs when it left Kabul airport after photos of dogs in cages at the airport went viral and a protection organization animals accused the army of condemning them to death by abandoning them.
“To correct erroneous reports, the U.S. military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including reported military working dogs,” tweeted Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Tuesday.
“The photos circulating online were of animals in the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs in our care,” he said, referring to a veterinary and animal rescue operation in the Afghan capital.
—Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) August 31, 2021
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said in a statement that “despite a complicated and dangerous retrograde mission underway, U.S. forces have gone to great lengths to assist in the rescue of Kabul’s small animals as much as possible.” adding that the dogs the group cared for were, to his knowledge, strays from Kabul, not working dogs in any capacity.
Joint Task Force-Crisis Response, which helped facilitate evacuations out of Kabul, “left no dogs at #HKIA. Photos circulating are not military working dogs,” Marine Corps Forces Central Command tweeted Tuesday, using the hashtag Hamid Karzai International Airport. A defense official told Insider the same.
A State Department spokesperson told Defense One that all of its working dogs were also evacuated. “None were left behind,” they said.
A defense official told Insider that claims that the United States left behind military working dogs were “absolutely false.”
Another manager told USA Today’s Matt Brown that “all of our working dogs left with their handlers. We wouldn’t leave them behind. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”
The military statements follow a strong statement Monday from Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of animal rights group American Humane, condemning what she called a “death sentence” for working dogs under contract.
She said she was “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”.
“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,” Ganzert wrote.
A spokesperson for American Humane told Insider that reports the group had received from people on the ground in Kabul, including members of the U.S. military, indicated that the group of animals left behind included contract working dogs.
A statement from the SPCA International, citing information provided by Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, who founded Kabul Small Animal Rescue, said “dogs and their guardians were explicitly NOT permitted to board military aircraft, and many private charter planes did not have access to the airport either.”
The statement appeared to suggest the working dogs may have been among the group of animals that could not be evacuated, but did not elaborate on their specific status.
“Charlotte,” the animal rescue operation reported, “was advised that most of the KSAR dogs were to be released at the airport on August 30 during the airport evacuation – transforming the dogs shelters once rescued into homeless strays”.
The United States and its international allies conducted a major airlift operation to evacuate tens of thousands of people, including American citizens, Afghan partners and their families, and other foreign nationals, as well as equipment and animals, from Afghanistan following the Taliban. to resume. However, not everyone who wanted to leave was able to do so.