Pen Farthing keeps up push to fly out Afghan animal charity staff and families

'I talk to them daily. They are terrified,' British former marine says of 68 still in Afghanistan

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The founder of an animal rescue charity in Afghanistan, whose campaign to fly out his staff and animals touched hearts around the world, is still trying to get 68 people out of the country.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing grabbed headlines during the Kabul evacuation for his impassioned pleas on behalf of his animals, and his staff and their families.

When he managed to get his 160 rescue cats and dogs into Britain, the former Royal Marine promised the mission was not over.

“We are not giving up," Mr Farthing said. "People think I've got the animals out, that's it. It is not. Operation Ark was always people and animals.

“I talk to them daily. They are terrified. Our little operations room is still going every day to get them out.”

He formed the Nowzad animal rescue charity in Kabul in the mid-2000s.

Speaking in England, Mr Farthing said he wished he had pushed harder to get visas for the staff after a Taliban commander stopped them.

“It took a while to get the visas from the British government. If I had hammered them harder and got the visas a day before, we could have got through,” he said.

“They had the correct paperwork from the British government to leave, but [US President] Joe Biden had changed the rules two hours earlier to state only people with passports with a visa in would be allowed into the airport.

“I pleaded, pleaded, pleaded with the Taliban commander. I was on the ground, pleading with him and he stuck an AK-47 in my face. There was nothing I could do.”

Dozens of the 160 animals rescued by Mr Farthing have begun their new lives at sanctuaries across the UK.

Pictures on social media showed the dogs being welcomed by staff at the Lozzas Lurcher Rescue shelter in Hertfordshire, southern England, who described them as their “precious cargo”.

Images show several other dogs had been taken to the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary for relocation and put into quarantine.

Updated: September 2nd 2021, 8:43 PM