Animal Activists Rescue 285 Cats And Dogs Who Were Left Behind In Afghanistan

Mason Joseph Zimmer
rescue workers posing with pet supplies and crates on cargo plane
Facebook | SPCA International

It's beautiful to consider that at any moment, there are likely thousands if not millions of people out there working hard to make a lifesaving difference for animals of all kinds.

And while we most commonly see this happen in whatever local communities these passionate rescuers find themselves in, there are some who go so far beyond the call of duty that they turn their rescue efforts into an international mission.

This reality is outright staggering when we hear about how many animals just one person managed to save, but it also reminds us that stories of hope can come from even the world's most chaotic and uncertain situations.

And that recently became apparent once again during one of the world's most ambitious efforts that saw hundreds of animals saved.

After the U.S. military formally withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict last August, refugees and foreign nationals alike suddenly found themselves having to flee the Middle Eastern nation.

man crouching and petting two dogs in Afghanistan
Facebook | SPCA International

And as People reported, this turn of events saw many of them have to leave their pets behind and hundreds of dogs and cats were stranded in Afghanistan as a result.

But in the six months that followed, the SPCA International joined forces with War Paws, Kabul Small Animal Rescue, Marley's Mutts, the RainCoast Dog Rescue Society, and the Thank DOG I'm Out Rescue Society to bring those animals out of turmoil and onto North American soil.

All told, 154 dogs and 131 cats were brought together in an operation that SPCAI dubbed "Mission Possible."

But while they would prove that their mission was indeed possible by February 1, that doesn't mean it was easy.

rescue workers posing with pet supplies and crates on cargo plane
Facebook | SPCA International

Even getting the animals out of Afghanistan proved perilous and difficult, as earlier efforts were hampered by an explosion at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, as well as soaring flight costs and plane restrictions and permits.

And when a private plane large enough to transport the animals, rescue workers, and their needed supplies was secured, they found they couldn't travel directly to the U.S. That was because the Centers for Disease Control restricted the importation of dogs from 100 different countries due to rabies concerns.

Nonetheless, the mission would turn out to be a success after the flight was rerouted to Canada and landed in Vancouver, British Columbia.

woman reunites with cat after fleeing Afghanistan
Facebook | SPCA International

According to SPCAI director of programs Lori Kalef, all the animals involved were "happy, healthy, and ready to find their forever homes or be reunited with their families" upon arrival.

Better yet, we've already seen a few of these animals reunited with their friends as a civilian working with the U.S. Air Force, a family of Afghan refugees, and another couple have found their cats among the rescued creatures.

As for the rest, they're staying at a temporary shelter in Vancouver until they can either be reunited with their owners or adopted.

dog touches person's tattooed hand
Facebook | SPCA International

That said, the coalition of animal rescue organizations who organized this mission have received additional support from four other animal rescues in Canada, who have found foster homes for some of the cats and dogs.

As Marley's mutts founder Zach Skow put it, "We believe deeply in creating second chances for animals and couldn't be happier for the hundreds of dogs and cats who will now have theirs."

h/t: People