An update from Pen

It has been nearly three years since those fateful days of Operation Ark and the complete abandonment of Afghanistan by western governments. It is as if the preceding twenty years of sacrifice by the coalition of western soldiers to bring about the positive changes never happened.

We no longer hear of Afghanistan in the news. It is a country almost forgotten. I say almost because here at Nowzad we know that you, our amazing Nowzad family of supporters, still care deeply about the dogs, cats and other animals that Nowzad has a mission to deliver vital animal care and treatment for.

It has taken me a long time to come out of the depression brought about by the fallout from Operation Ark, successfully evacuating 171 animals and 67 of our Afghan staff. I almost said enough was enough. I was never going to write the story of Operation Ark as I believed it would just bring back too many bad memories of the negativity and abuse in the days, weeks and months after August 2021. It would also remind me of what I had lost. 

But so many of you convinced me otherwise, and now I am super proud to announce my fourth book, 'Operation Ark', will be published on the 8th July. The true story that you supported of our evacuation of 171 animals and 67 people. It was never ever ‘pets over people’…

You can pre-order a signed copy here and have you seen our new 'Op Ark' t-shirt inspired by Ricky Gervais's famous tweet during the evacuation? Here at Nowzad we think it is probably our best T-shirt ever - buy yours here

My Operation Ark book is the truth of what happened, not the lies and made up stories that the press chose to publish. I hope you enjoy reading about what happened in detail during those fateful two weeks.

Nowzad as a charity was started when I rescued Nowzad the dog during my tour of Helmand province way back in 2006. The charity was born from our underlying mission to aid other serving soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan to rescue the stray dogs or cats that had ‘adopted’ them.

Since August 2021 there are no longer any soldiers serving in Afghanistan and so that aspect of our work is over. And with that brings the sad news that the last of the golden oldies who were the original soldier rescues are also now gone. Arnhem, who outlived Nowzad, Tali and even Fubar, has recently left us. His adopted soldier Ben, writes a heart wrenching goodbye here to Arnhem. Ben eloquently describes the comfort a dog (or cat!) can bring in times of hardship and the bond that is formed between the adopter and their canine and feline companion. They become family and their loss is always the hardest to bare.

The charity is continuing to deliver vital aid to Ukraine for the many shelters that we support in areas severely affected by the illegal and brutal Russian invasion. In fact the Nowzad van has just returned from delivering dog and cat food to our Nowzad warehouse in Lviv.

Working with partner agencies, Nowzad has been working tirelessly to deliver rabies vaccinations amongst the thousands of stray dogs and cats roaming the abandoned areas as Ukrainians have been forced to flee the Russian onslaught. In certain areas we have also been supporting mobile neutering and spaying clinics. An outbreak of rabies is a likely scenario that we are all trying hard to avoid. You can read about this vital work here.

A tact team of Pen, David, Jonnie and Nowzad’s veterinary advisor, Dr Lachlan Campbell were recently in Kramatorsk, just 15km from the Ukrainian front lines, to rebuild the shelter with robust kennelling to replace the worn out dog ‘hutches’. We have also been supporting the rebuilding and fitting out of a new shelter in Borodiankia, just west of Kyiv. Read more about that here

Your generous donations make that possible. Truly our Nowzad family are amazing – thank you.

And to end, after nearly three long years we are starting our adoptions again! Further details can be found here on how you can help fund their travel and give a well deserving dog or cat a loving forever home.

Because of you Nowzad is here. I truly can’t thank you all enough for your kindness and support. On-behalf of the dogs and cats in our care, thank you. You make a positive difference in vital animal welfare work in Ukraine and in Afghanistan.


May 2024

An update from Pen