Did the Biden administration leave military service dogs in Afghanistan?

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Once again conservative and right-wing media pundits and bloggers are claiming the administration of President Joe Biden was responsible for leaving dozens of dogs behind that were owned by Americans during the hasty and botched retreat of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

An animal rights group American Humane claimed that the administration abandoned the dogs, leaving them for dead at the Kabul Aiport.

“I am devastated by reports that the American government is pulling out of Kabul and leaving behind brave U.S. military contract working dogs to be tortured and killed at the hand of our enemies,” American Humane president and CEO Robin Ganzert claimed. “These brave dogs do the same dangerous, lifesaving work as our military working dogs, and deserved a far better fate than the one to which they have been condemned.”

The Pentagon denied that claim.

“To correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, to include the reported ‘military working dogs,'”  said Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the Defense Department.

So whose dogs were left in crates in a hot airplane hangar at Kabul Airport. You see, the wordsmiths of the Biden administration said they were not military working dogs, but the dogs were pets owned by Americans and embassy staff workers.

“The U.S. did not leave dozens of military working dogs behind as it withdrew troops from Afghanistan,” liberal fact-checkers reported. “The viral pictures show rescue dogs under the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue. These dogs largely belonged to Afghans, embassy employees and independent defense contractors who were unable to bring their animals with them as they evacuated.”

So, why were they not allowed to bring the dogs home with them? Because the Pentagon did not allow the dogs on the evacuation flights.

“As part of the mass evacuation out of Kabul, Afghans and foreigners desperate to leave are departing with just the clothes on their backs and sometimes a small bag. In their rush to flee, many must leave behind their pets because evacuation flights don’t allow animals,” NPR reported.

So while the Biden Administration did not leave behind military service dogs, it did force its embassy staff members to leave their beloved pets behind as they fled the country. The Kabul Small Animal Rescue worked feverishly, raising nearly $1,000,000 in donations to try to get the animals to return home, but came up short because of the administration’s firm departure deadline of August 31st.

The shelter is still working overtime, now under the darkness of Taliban rule to see that the remaining dogs are brought home. It is part of their ongoing “Operation Hercules” to provide safe passage for the dogs in their care.

The operation is being conducted by American citizen Charlotte Maxwell-Jones. Jones arrived at the airport with her own dog and 130 crated rescue dogs.

“Jones refused to board the plane without her puppy on Monday, so the military ordered her to leave and turn loose 130 crated dogs that mostly belonged to Americans and Afghans who evacuated, according to social media postings. This occurred even though Maxwell-Jones secured flights from non-profit organizations that had permission to land in a neutral country. She left the airport after being stuck there for six days and returned home to an uncertain fate,” Yahoo News reported.

In the end, the dogs and their caretakers were explicitly NOT allowed to board military aircraft, and numerous private charter aircraft were not granted access to the airport either,” The SPCA said in a statement. “Charlotte was informed that most of the [shelter] dogs had to be released into the airport on August 30 as the airport was evacuated – turning once rescued shelter dogs into homeless strays.”

The Taliban want her out of the country.

“Five minutes ago, a fairly large group of Taliban left my lawn … One of them had a grenade launcher. They told me I should leave immediately and tried to put guards inside my house …We settled on outside my house,” she said in a video. “They have said they will give us safe passage to the airport for as large a group that we have. They told me to leave first. It’s very obvious what will happen.”

“We are busy making plans, checking them twice, sorting out details, and keeping things quiet to maintain our own and the animals’ security,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday. “We know it’s not the most satisfying feed to follow, but please know that behind the scenes we are busting our tails to do everything we can to save our furry friends, and we deeply appreciate everyone’s continued concern and support. Those on the ground here have no intention of giving up on our animals, despite the grueling setbacks, and we will work with a growing and dedicated team to continue efforts to evacuate all our animals and staff.”

Fact Check: While it is true the U.S. government did not abandon any military service dog, the Pentagon and federal officials blocked the safe passage of the dogs owned by U.S. Embassy employees and Americans and Afghans fleeing the country were ordered by administration officials to leave their pets and service dogs at the Airport in Kabul.

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