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‘TERRIBLE IMPEDIMENT’: Animal protection group hits U.S. CDC for hampering evacuation of dogs from Afghanistan

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently enacted policy suspending transports of dogs from Afghanistan into the U.S., was another terrible impediment, despite our negotiations and pleadings.

KRISTINA WONG: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International (SPCAI) hit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for being a “terrible impediment” to efforts to evacuate dogs and other animals from the Kabul airport before the U.S. military was due to withdraw on August 31.

After the Taliban seized Kabul, the founder of the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, Charlotte Maxwell-Jones managed to get dozens of dogs to the airport, where they staged efforts to fly them out in cargo holds of planes, so as not to take away seats from evacuees. The small animal rescue had launched a vocal social media campaign that gathered widespread support, including from members of Congress.

However, the effort ultimately failed, with Maxwell-Jones fleeing the airport with one puppy, and the other dogs released into the airport, according to the SPCAI. Maxwell-Jones asked that the military scatter the food that she brought to the airport for the dogs, but it is unclear whether that was done. SPCAI specifically pointed a finger at the CDC — who enacted on July 14 a new policy suspending the import of animals from high-risk countries for dog rabies. SOURCE…

TORI RICHARDS: Also, the Tennessee woman who owns an animal rescue center in Kabul was not allowed passage home by the Department of Defense because she carried a disabled puppy in her arms — one of 130 animals she was ordered to leave behind in the final days of airlifts.

Charlotte Maxwell-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… The Taliban visited Maxwell-Jones at home last week and ordered her to leave with her employees, she said in a tearful video posted on Twitter. She raised $703,705 on a GoFundMe page for an animal evacuation and desperately sought a landing permit…

Maxwell-Jones was allowed to airlift military dogs, so she handed 46 animals to Veteran Sheepdogs of America for transport to Turkey. A video posted Tuesday said the dogs were in a hangar and given water in preparation for transport. However, the remaining dogs weren’t so fortunate. Maxwell-Jones begged the military to allow her to open bags of kibble and spread it across the tarmac for the suddenly homeless dogs, according to social media.

“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,” SPCA International 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 Department of Defense was forced to address an outcry over the military dog issue on Tuesday but said nothing of how they left the country or why an American with dogs who had a flight plan was left behind… The lack of respect shown to military dogs by leaving their escape to a non-profit is shameful, retired special operations Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc told the Washington Examiner. He said these evacuation policies “start at the top” and trickle down without any basis in reality. “You need to have latitude to make concessions, and in this case, that woman should be allowed on the plane with the puppy,” he said. SOURCE…

SPCA International issues the following the statement and update:

SPCA INTERNATIONAL: An urgent update on the status of Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue; the animals under the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, including 130 dogs; and the ongoing efforts to evacuate them along with the shelter’s staff.

This update includes Charlotte’s latest updates from Kabul. It also includes timely information from the organizations (SPCA International, War Paws, Marley’s Mutts, Animal Wellness Action and Puppy Rescue Mission) who have been working non-stop to evacuate her and the military working dogs, and pets under the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue. We are in regular communication with Charlotte, and our latest debriefing occurred on August 30, 2021, at 3 pm EST.

Despite being at the airport when the ISIS-K bombing took place on August 26 and facing the vast array of threats there, Charlotte is now off airport grounds in Kabul and, for the moment, is safe. On August 30, she was forced to leave the airport with one puppy under her arm as final military evacuations occurred. She was escorted by the Taliban back to her rescue shelter, 7 miles outside of Kabul, where she remains safe for the moment…

The majority of KSAR staff, and the cats in their care, were never granted access to the airport. They are safe for the moment at another location in Kabul. The current information regarding the status of KSAR’s 130 dogs is much less clear, despite our constant efforts to confirm their whereabouts.

Here is what we know: 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. Charlotte was informed that most of the KSAR dogs had to be released into the airport on August 30 as the airport was evacuated – turning once rescued shelter dogs into homeless strays. They were not given access to the flight we had secured to transport them out of the country.

They are within the airport in an area used for housing employees at the far end of the flight line. We haven’t been able to confirm the number of dogs released, nor can we confirm whether the U.S. Military evacuated the 46 working dogs that had been under KSAR’s care when they left. We are urgently pressing for more details, and while this is more difficult now that the U.S. military has completely evacuated Kabul, we refuse to give up.

Moving forward, KSAR’s primary objective is to return to the airport– when it is safe and with the hope of Taliban cooperation–to try and retrieve or re-rescue the animals who were released at the airport. The situation at the airport remains very unsafe, but KSAR is hopeful their staff will be allowed to return to the airport at some point to try to save their dogs. During her departure from the airport on August 30, Charlotte requested the U.S. Military open the bags of dog food she was able to bring into the airport and scatter their contents in the area where the dogs had been released…

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently enacted policy suspending transports of dogs from Afghanistan and more than 100 other nations into the U.S., was another terrible impediment, despite our negotiations and pleadings. We applied for an Emergency Exemption so that Charlotte and the dogs could get out on our chartered flight this week. But the CDC’s adherence to its import policy during this time of crisis put animals and people at risk. We are alarmed that leaders at the CDC are not bringing a more balanced perspective to the importation of dogs, especially after the U.S. House of Representatives rebuked CDC on this issue and passed an amendment to restore a proper screening process.

This entire situation is a reminder that when governments, including the United States, don’t recognize the human connection to animals, they put people at risk. If Charlotte and her staff had been allowed to take their animals – with the support of private animal rescue groups that had paid for and organized a charter flight – they’d be safe, and so would the animals. Now she’s still in Kabul, desperately working to bring these animals into a safer space.

While this was our last chance to evacuate the dogs from Kabul before August 31, we are not giving up…We urge the U.S. Armed Forces not to forget the animals of Afghanistan or the people who care for them. We ask them to share the most up-to-date information on the released dogs in Hamid Karzai International Airport and to work with us on options to remove Charlotte and her dogs after August 31. SOURCE…


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