The US military denied reports that it had left working dogs at Kabul’s airport or abandoned dogs in cages following its departure from Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The US Department of Defense has denied allegations that the US military abandoned dozens of military service dogs in Kabul prior to the last withdrawal from Afghanistan.
John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, tweeted “To clarify, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs. The photos circulating on the internet were of animals cared for by the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs cared for by us “.
In a tweet, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stated that US troops did not leave dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport when the airport’s final flights took off Monday afternoon, East Coast time.
According to the Pentagon, photos circulating on social media of 150 dogs in cages lined up at the airport are of animals belonging to a group called Kabul Small Animal Rescue. They were not military working dogs, nor were they under the care of American troops. The dogs pictured were still in Afghanistan as of Tuesday.
In 2018, an American, Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founded Kabul Small Animal Rescue, which assisted US troops in bringing home cats and dogs they had befriended while deployed in Afghanistan. After the Taliban took over the country earlier this month, the Taliban ordered Maxwell-Jones to leave, and she scrambled to get her employees, their families, and up to 250 animals out as well, according to Stars and Stripes.
According to the Pentagon, Maxwell-Jones brought the dogs to the airport in kennels and requested that troops transport them on military evacuation flights.
The military denied her request due to customs restrictions and the need to reserve all available seats on flights for people in need of evacuation.
According to the Pentagon, Maxwell-Jones then attempted to charter a civilian aircraft to pick up the dogs, but the plane never arrived.
It was also stated that troops relocated the dogs from the runway to a compound previously used by the Afghan army. The animals were then released into an enclosed area by service members, where they remained until the final United States flights departed. According to officials, Maxwell-Jones stayed with the dogs to try to get them on a later flight.
Sunday afternoon, before the final U.S. departure, the animal rescue group used the hashtag #OperationHercules to tweet photos of some of the dogs it was attempting to help.
The post quickly went viral. After about an hour, the group tweeted again, urging people to stop tweeting at the State Department and US Central Command and stating that its team was handling the situation. The group’s final full tweet came Monday afternoon, and it pleaded with followers to “PLEASE LET THE PROCESS WORK.”
However, photos of the dogs continued to circulate on social media on Tuesday, along with claims that they were abandoned working dogs, prompting the Pentagon to issue a denial.