Urgent Update and Action Plan from Charlotte & Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR)

We’re writing with 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.

[NOTE: The above-mentioned working dogs are not working dogs owned by the U.S. military, they are contract working dogs that are owned and trained by private companies and are contracted for work that can include military and other operations.]

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, where she remains safe for the moment.

As the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was happening, Charlotte never relented in her efforts to help the animals of Kabul and even took on new animal-care responsibilities. She was able to rescue 46 working dogs and several personal pets belonging to fleeing Americans. Her dedication to saving lives in a war zone during a military evacuation is a remarkable testament to her courage and commitment.

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.

Our team of NGOs (SPCA International, War Paws, Marley’s Mutts, Animal Wellness Action and Puppy Rescue Mission) has been working tirelessly to rescue KSAR and the animals in its care for the last week, exhausting every possible option and resource we could. We have worked day and night to develop and implement strategies for rescuing Charlotte, her staff, and her animals, as well as contingency plans. The massive network of U.S. and foreign agencies, politicians, charter companies, and rescuers that we enlisted also did their absolute best to advocate for the extraction of Charlotte and the dogs. We also appreciate the support of those in the U.S. military who helped us.  

 “We are heartbroken that the aircraft we secured to transport the rescued dogs of Kabul Small Animal Rescue out of Afghanistan were not ultimately allowed to take the animals and their caretakers safely out of the country,” said Lori Kalef, Director of Programs at SPCA International. “Our team has been working around the clock and has exhausted every possible option and resource we could in our mission to rescue the dogs before the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. We’ll continue to do everything we can to evacuate Kabul Small Animal Rescue’s staff and animals from the country after August 31. We cannot thank our supporters enough for everything they’ve done to help the dogs and cats of Kabul and their caretakers.”     

“I feel eternally grateful for our team, partners and all the government agencies that stepped up to lend their voice during this intense and difficult time. Charlotte’s courage and steadfast devotion to the rescued animals in her care and the tireless efforts of all involved animal advocates working around the globe is awe-inspiring,” said Zach Skow, founder of Marley’s Mutts. “We are dedicated to saving them and will continue to seek options to help her and the rescued dogs and cats to leave Kabul safely. They deserve no less.”

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’re currently pursuing options for transporting the dogs and cats out of Afghanistan after that deadline, and the funds we raised will continue to support the care of the animals in Kabul. SPCA International will continue to act as a conduit of information between KSAR and the public.

Here is what’s needed:

  • 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.
  • KSAR needs continuing support. We will continue to work with Charlotte to use every avenue possible to send funding and logistical support. 

We cannot thank our supporters enough for your donations and advocacy on behalf of the dogs and cats of Kabul. They have made all the difference in building a coalition of advocates around the world on behalf of Kabul Small Animal Rescue. We will keep you updated on our progress and how you can take action to help Charlotte, her team, and the animals.

EDIT: The shelter is located within Kabul, not 7 miles outside of city.