Pen Farthing says most of his 173 cats and dogs are lined up for new homes in UK as he praises 'phenomenal' UK troops

Pen Farthing says most of his 173 cats and dogs are lined up for new homes in UK as he praises 'phenomenal' UK troops

August 30, 2021

PEN Farthing has said almost all of his 173 cats and dogs are lined up for loving new homes in the UK after arriving safely at London Heathrow over the weekend.

The ex-Royal Marine yesterday praised the "phenomenal" efforts of troops in getting his animals to Britain – after his heartbreak at leaving devoted staff behind.

Pen said five cats died on the first leg of the journey as a result of the trauma caused by Isis-K's airport bombing and subsequent tear gas.

The rest were met by a team of vets at Heathrow and it's understood they will now quarantine for two weeks under UK law.

"A lot of the animals are already adopted," Pen told the Daily Mail.

"We are not short of offers so I don't think we will have much trouble rehoming the rest."

The animal hero was helped by troops at Kabul airport where he could "not have been happier" to see them.

"From the second I met the British troops, during the Taliban-British handover, oh my God, those guys were absolutely amazing, fantastic.

"The marines and the Army tend to have a little bit of a rivalry, but I could not have been happier to see them at the checkpoint."

Pen explained that they only had an hour to put the animals on their flight from Kabul, but the help of troops made the move possible.

"Some American troops on the airfield said 'are you the dog guy?', and they dropped everything to help," he said.

"The guys all came around, people who were off duty came over, and said what can we do to help. And within one hour we had the animals all on board."

Of the cats who died during the journey, Pen added: "We had a veterinarian fly out to [Uzbekistan] to meet us and we did everything we could for them but sadly it was too late."

He said 25 staff and 46 dependents are entitled to resettle in the UK, but he fears the Taliban would stem the flow of emigration after Western troops leave. 

"We all had a massive emotional cry. They said to me you can't do anything more for us here, you must leave, so I had to go," he said.

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Pen is now making his way to Oslo in Norway, to be with his wife Kaisa Markhus.

His charted jet stopped at Muscat after leaving war-torn Afghanistan before arriving in London yesterday.

The animal hero's pet charity Nowzad wrote on Facebook: "We are relieved to confirm that Pen and the Nowzad animals [have] left Afghanistan and are now safe.

"However, we still have much to do as our wonderful team in Kabul were not allowed through the final barrier.

"It was a devastating blow to us. We are now working extremely hard to get them evacuated and will not rest until they too are safe.

"Our thoughts for now are with our staff and the many people and animals who have also been left behind.

"We will do our utmost to help them."

It comes after a leaked recording claimed Pen left an expletive-laden message for an aide to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace earlier this week.

He accused the government aide of "blocking" efforts to evacuate him and his animals from Kabul and threatened to "destroy" him on social media, according to The Times.


Pen's wife Kaisa was evacuated out of Afghanistan last week on an almost empty plane and finally arrived home on August 19.

She and a pregnant American friend had to push their way through a sea of men, women and children to get to an access gate.

The final flight from Kabul landed at RAF Brize Norton this morning – ending the biggest military evacuation in 80 years.

Pen's dramatic evacuation has gripped the nation, particularly as his Afghan members of staff and their families were forced to stay behind by the Taliban.

He had been attempting to get 69 people, as well as the animals, out of the country when President Joe Biden "changed policy" on who could evacuate.

His convoy was 300 metres inside the airport perimeter in Kabul when they were turned back by the Taliban on Thursday.

Moments later, at least 169 people – including 13 US servicemen, two British men and the teenage child of a third UK national – were killed in a deadly suicide blast outside the airport.

Pen's courageous staff later told him to go without them.

He told The Sun of his heartbreak at leaving his staff: “It is just so depressing I had to leave them behind."

And he said there were "lots of tears" as he walked away from them.

"I feel very sad for them [but] I’m relieved for me and I feel happy for the animals.”


Pen packed 125kg of dry pet food, 72 tins, 270 litres of water, 12 industrial size rolls of paper towel and 20 bottles of disinfectant for mucking out the crates during the private rescue flight.

The drama has put huge pressure on British officials who were desperately trying to evacuate as many as possible before flights stopped today.

As a British passport holder, Pen has always been at the front of the queue for evacuation.

However, he had refused to leave without his animals or staff.

Defence Minister Ben Wallace has repeatedly told Brits he'll "prioritise people over pets".

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