Amidst the chaotic final phases of the evacuation from Kabul airport last month, animal rights groups accused the US government of leaving military animals behind. A statement released by PETA claimed 60 working dogs had been abandoned. The claim was denied American officials with Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby tweeting that:
“To correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs.”
Hewad Azizi, a contractor working for a company tasked with maintaining airport security after the American withdrawal, told AFP that soon after the last soldiers left, he went looking for abandoned canines. Thirty were found with around half being in the American-controlled zone and the other half in the area which had been under Afghan police jurisdiction. It is unclear who these dogs originally belonged to with US Central Command (CENTCOM) officials stating that photos of caged “abandoned” dogs were actually taken from the Kabul Small Animal Rescue. Some have also suggested that the dogs left behind likely belonged to contractors operating in Afghanistan.
Azizi himself has no clue who the dogs belonged to but is now working alongside his colleagues to get them ready to work at the airport once things return to normal. The dogs are being fed, cleaned and cared for while training is being conducted to figure out what exactly said dogs have been trained for. So far it would appear that a good chunk are bomb-sniffing dogs. Others have been trained to work as police dogs or to seek out narcotics. Among these, a dark brown Malinois called Rex is Azizi’s favorite.
The security company which rescued the dogs works under the umbrella of an UAE-based company called GAAC. They have been responsible for handling security at Hamid Karzai International Airport since late 2020.