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Hundreds of rescue animals arrive in DC from Afghanistan

A charter flight with 194 dogs and 100 cats arrived safely after a 7,000-mile journey from the Kabul Small Animal Rescue.
A dog in a cage
Posted at 12:48 PM, Jun 07, 2024

After months of planning and fundraising, nearly 300 dogs and cats made it from from Kabul, Afghanistan, to just outside of Washington, D.C. But for many of these animals, getting to the nation's capital was just part of the journey.

Early in the morning on June 3, a charter flight with 194 dogs and 100 cats arrived safely at Dulles International Airport after a 7,000-mile journey from Kabul to Katowice, Poland, to Washington, D.C.

All the dogs and cats came from the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, which was founded by Charlotte Maxwell Jones in 2018. The operation was small initially, but the size of KSAR ballooned after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

After arriving in the U.S., the dogs and cats were unloaded from heavy wooden crates, given health checks, and then they waited for the next leg of their journey.

Maxwell Jones said, "This is like the most stressful three days of their lives, but they're being well cared for."

She said Pender Pet Retreat is the only government-affiliated facility in the country that has the capacity to help get nearly 300 animals successfully imported at one time.

All the dogs and cats had to be inspected by the CDC before being released.

Beyond organizing, planning and fundraising for the charter flight, Maxwell Jones lined up a network of 40 different rescues from around the country to help these dogs and cats find their forever homes. But that also meant coordinating travel to foster homes and rescues.

Four of the contract working dogs.

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Hundreds of rescue animals headed to US from Afghanistan

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Over the course of a few days, a steady stream of cars, vans and SUVs pulled into the parking lot to help transport dogs or cats to Maine, New York, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Minnesota and more.

A few of the animals had to take another flight to get to West Coast rescue groups in California and Oregon.

A number of rescue groups in the Washington, D.C., area also stepped up to take some of the animals. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington, Virginia, picked up three dogs, and one of them, 8-month-old Adele, already had an adopter lined up before the dogs arrived.

Jada Ryan waited over a month to meet her new puppy, and she's so excited to get to know her new fur baby over the next few weeks. Ryan said she was drawn to Adele's story, and the moment they met she said everything felt right.

From shelter staff and crate builders in Kabul to volunteers, rescue workers and donors around the world, Maxwell Jones estimates 10,000-15,000 people played a role in making this airlift a success.

Once this mission is complete and all the animals have been handed off, Maxwell Jones is heading straight back to Kabul, where the rescue still has over 200 animals to care for.

She recognizes the needs of animals here in the U.S., but she hopes any attention to the KSAR rescue flight brings positive attention to other shelters in the U.S.

"The hope is that we pay it forward. And so all of the rescues that are working with us get more attention. Rescue animals do get more attention. I hope that everyone's adoption rates go up this year. Any attention paid to rescues is good for all of us," she explained.