His return flight was not carrying his 24 staff and dependents from the Nowzad animal shelter shelter in Kabul but he managed to evacuate about 150 animals
Ex-Royal Marine Pen Farthing says he ‘couldn’t let his dogs be shot by the Taliban’ after he fled the country with 170 dogs and cats.
Paul “Pen” Farthing’s privately funded charter flight arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport at roughly 7.30am on Sunday.
The flight was not carrying his 24 staff and dependents from the Nowzad animal shelter shelter in Kabul but he managed to evacuate about 150 animals.
The cats and dogs have now been taken to an animal sanctuary for their quarantine, which will last up to six months depending on when they had their rabies vaccine.
Mr Farthing took the flight with the animals before making his way to Norway to reunite with his wife, say reports.
In an interview with the Daily Mail he said he remained haunted by having to leave his staff behind and he was urged to leave lest the Taliban shoot the canines, one of which had been stabbed to death.
He said: “It was the staff who made the decision for me to make a second attempt on my own. They said, ‘Don’t stay. You’ve got to take the dogs out. The Taliban will just shoot them.’
“I gave them three months wages – that’s put away securely – and a couple of hundred dollars extra. I said, ‘Put this in your pocket. Do not spend it. I want it back when I see you in England. That’s your emergency money’. Then I went round and hugged every single one of them, including the girls. Everybody was so emotional.”
He added that he felt guilt he couldn’t get his staff out and that they were left behind.
He said: “I can still see two of my young female vets sat there crying when we got back to Nowzad after the first failed attempt to the airport. That’s what will never stop playing like a loop in my mind until I get them out.”
Mr Farthing’s campaign to get workers and animals out from the shelter caused a spat in recent days.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said earlier that the effort to rescue Pen and his animals had “taken up too much time” of his senior commanders “when they should be focused on dealing with the humanitarian crisis”.
In a series of tweets he hit out at criticism for his remarks from Pen’s supporters, in which he condemned “bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour” towards MoD staff.
Pen previously clashed with Mr Wallace over his refusal to allow the evacuation of him, his animals and staff.
He tweeted: “You picked on the wrong person to back down. I served 22 years as a Royal Marine. We don’t quit.”