I am glad to share the good news of how people can make a difference when they try - It made a big difference for Gus and other dogs in need along with the Soldiers who love their 4 legged companions.
" I'm Gus . I like Beef Jerky. "
Gus the dog (left), Gus with Louise from Nowzad Dogs, her Afghan assistant, and two pilots (right)
Since soldiers have been going to war, they have been befriending stray animals that they find out in the field or wander into camp. It’s a simple act of humanitarianism that has mutual benefit: a stray dog or cat gets food and comfort, and the soldier has a loyal companion. It is a powerful bond. In the Vietnam War, John Laurence, a reporter who covered the battle of Hue found a kitten in the ruins, cleaned the cat up and eventually took him home. Even though the cat was vicious, he couldn’t part with it. He ended up writing The Cat from Hue that became a best seller, documenting how the cat became a beloved family pet.
Afghanistan is filled with stray dogs and cats. They often congregate around the bases because they can pick through the garbage and find morsels of food. The Afghans keep dogs for fighting and often release the dogs who don’t win who then become wild. Go to any of the ISAF bases and you’ll see the animals, running in and out of the gates or rummaging through the garbage, searching for scraps. It’s a heartbreaking situation.
The problem is, after the deployment, the soldier goes home and has to part with the animal under their care. Even if the soldier wants the animal, due to regulations, the military won’t let the animals on the aircraft.
This is where Nowzad Dogs comes into the story. They are an NGO that have one mission: to rescue the cats and dogs that have become the soldier’s or sailors pets, get them medically checked, and send them on to their owners in America, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa; anywhere where ISAF troops or contractors have come from.
Started by a Royal Marine sergeant who wanted his camp dog brought home to England, Nowzad Dogs (Nowzad is the FOB in Helmand province where the sergeant was posted and became the charity namesake) relies completely on generous donations to operate the charity and get the dogs home. The sailor or soldier has to pay a certain amount up front. Then a page on the website is set up to ask for donations for the particular animal. Moving the animals can be extremely expensive and complex and Nowzad is always in dire need of funds.
CADG has stepped in to provide logistics free of cost. We fly the animals from specific military bases to Kabul and deliver the dog or cat to representatives of Nowzad who then clean up the animals and get their transport out of Afghanistan to their new home. It’s our way of providing a service to the ISAF soldiers. They spend the better part of a year with the animal and it becomes a pet, a companion who makes their experience in Afghanistan tolerable.
I watched as Gus the dog was loaded on to the plane in his crate at Camp Bastion with a small sign that said “ I'M Gus. I Like Beef Jerky”. A true mutt, he looks like he has a lot of Border Collie combined with a dash of Corgie and a few other breeds all mixed in. When we landed in Kabul, we had no idea what to expect of his temperament. When the door was opened, he came out, wagged his tail, ate some beef jerky and drank some water out of his bowl. His owner Zach, a sailor who has gone back to the States, will be reunited with Gus in about a month after the dog has been health checked and readied for transport with all the proper documents and certificates.
Gus’ story is an all too common one. But with donations, Nowzad Dogs will continue to care and transport the animals to their owners. And CADG is more than happy to help!
For more information or to make a donation, please have a look at www.nowzad.com