Animal shelter boss in Afghanistan Paul “Pen” Farthing was among the last evacuees able to make the flight out of Taliban-taken country on Saturday, August 28, and he left with the animals he rescued.
As of early Sunday, Farthing and his companions had arrived in the U.K., he updated on Twitter.
“Arrived Heathrow with partial success of Operation Ark Mixed emotions & true deep feeling of sadness for Afghan today,” he wrote.
“Heathrow Ops centre, Border Force, HARC & Air Pets were all bloody amazing. Witnessed 1st hand the compassion Heathrow is showing Afghan refugees,” he continued.
The former Royal Marine passed a security check in the Kabul airport on Friday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on Twitter.
“On the direction of the defence secretary, clearance for their charter flight has been sponsored by the UK government,” the MoD said.
While he successfully left with approximately 140 dogs and 60 cats from the Nowzad charity shelter alongside him, Farthing unfortunately still had his staff behind, at risk of Taliban violence, BBC reported.
Dr Iain McGill, a vet working with the charity told the outlet the animals were in good shape and had been put in quarantine kennels.
Mr Farthing and his fans have been campaigning since the collapse of the Afghan government to have his personnel, their families, and 140 dogs and 60 cats removed from the country in a proposal dubbed “Operation Ark.”
But the campaign also faced criticisms, such as from England’s defense secretary Ben Wallace who complained it was diverting attention away from the most vulnerable.
“I think it has taken up too much time of my senior commanders dealing with this issue when they should be focused on dealing with the humanitarian crisis,” he told LBC on Friday, according to The Guardian.
Controversy had also circulated around the desperate Afghans who were biding their last remaining hours in the hope to get a chance out of the country compared to the many animals that U.K. troops helped evacuate.
“The difficulty is getting people into and out of the airport and we’ve just used a lot of troops to bring in 200 dogs, meanwhile my interpreter’s family are likely to be killed,” said Foreign Affairs Select Committee chair Tom Tugendhat, per BBC.
“As one interpreter asked me a few days ago “why is my five-year-old worth less than your dog?’,” he added.
Support for Farthing’s escape was also there, with Pip Tomson, a journalist, confirmed he was “at the back of the queue in the final U.K. rescue flight.
“The military were so supportive. Resorting to hosing down the animals amid fears they would need euthanising in the stifling heat as they waited,” Tomson said on Twitter.
Farthing in a Tweet said the animals were kept in the cargo hold, where no human refugee would be allowed. He said 200 people were seated above it in the cabin.
According to the news media, right now as Farthing had been safe in the U.K. he was “very concerned for his staff and for all the other people suffering in Afghanistan.”
Britain had wrapped up their rescue mission on Saturday, airlifted in total more than 15,000 people from Kabul airport since August 14.