In the heart of a violent area of Afghanistan lies an area known as Now Zad, a place where animals struggle to survive, let alone live healthy and happy lives. Sergeant Pen Farthing of the Royal Marines could not sit idly by and watch while these helpless animals struggle for recognition and support. Farthing founded the Nowzad Dogs charity and now many caring individuals are dedicated to helping as many companion animals as possible in that area. After witnessing a dog fight arranged by local Afghan Police, he knew that something had to be done to save them. He tells us, “When we first arrived in the town of Now Zad, I broke up a dog fight that was taking place right outside of our compound. One of those dogs befriended me and became my buddy. His name is Nowzad.” From the horrific scene of a staged act of violence, a wonderful organization was formed which now manages the first official animal shelter in Afghanistan.
Throughout Pen’s tour of duty, one-by-one innocent, hungry animals would show up at the post. Most were skinny, malnourished, and would never make it through the extreme cold of the Afghanistan winters in their weak condition. Sgt. Farthing soon started to build dog runs and did all he could to offer these animals shelter, food, and someone to care about them for the first time in their lives. Soon a mother dog named Tali joined the group with her six tiny puppies. Shortly after Jena was brought into safety, and she gave birth to eight puppies in the security of the compound. Mother dogs either pregnant or with an entire family in tow were are a common sight at the compound as this country has little to no veterinarian help readily available, and spaying and neutering is almost unheard of. The responsibility of having this overabundance of dogs show up in such a short time was truly overwhelming.
Stray dogs in Afghanistan are considered to be unclean, infested beings that most people in the country fear. Consequently, most all dogs are treated with zero respect. Sadly, as can be the case stateside, these homeless dogs are often used in the barbaric “sport” of dog fighting. Pen stated and believes he and his organization “can make a difference even in countries where most people believe that culture and tradition will block the way.” Based out of the United Kingdom, the organization was officially formed in May of 2007.
Sergeant Farthing has written several books about his triumphs and struggles with saving the Now Zad dogs. One Dog at a Time, Saving the Strays of Afghanistan was published in 2010 and is a Sunday Times bestseller. Proceeds from the book help to support the Now Zad shelter. Recently, Farthing published No Place Like Home where he describes the problems he experienced with his own personal dogs after they were saved from a country full of animal neglect and war.
Pen and his caring group of over forty volunteers and supporters have been working diligently to put an end to various levels of animal cruelty. Nowzad Dogs helps to promote desperately needed animal welfare as well as helping to supply all forms of animal aid in Afghanistan. On top of having implemented the first official animal shelter in the country, they introduced the “Trap Neuter and Release” program to help prevent unwanted animals from being born on the streets. Such programs relieve the stress on the shelter but prevent the stray animals from producing unwanted litters. Nowzad Dogs would love to continue to open more shelters as well as develop educational programs that teach Afghan children the importance of animal welfare, and are only limited by their budget. All monies donated to this organization go directly to help the war-zone area animals in need, while raising awareness around the world. Like all non-profits, without funding they simply cannot continue to operate.
Do you ever feel like you are not able to help or make a difference even here at home? With the availability of outstanding, quality veterinarian care in our country, you can be part of the solution. Just look what’s being done in a country with limited access to veterinary services and the majority of civilians not caring at all. Sgt. Farthing has inspired us at LIFE+DOG and we know that you, too, can be proactive and make a difference. Before Nowzad Dogs took action, it was believed that saving these dogs was just a fantasy; but luckily the dream has turned into a reality. Their motto tugs at the heart strings of animal lovers everywhere: “We couldn’t walk away—we hope you won’t either!” We sincerely hope that wherever your passion lies, you do not turn away and you come to realize that anything is possible.
Be Passionate. Be Proactive. Spay + Neuter.
Please visit their website for the most up-to-date information and see how you can help at www.nowzad.com