A former Royal Marine who fled Afghanistan with 150 animals said he could not “let his dogs be shot by the Taliban”.
Paul “Pen” Farthing’s flight arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport at around 7.30am on Sunday but was not carrying his staff and dependents from the Nowzad animal shelter shelter in Kabul.
He told the Daily Mail that he was haunted by having to leave his staff behind but said they urged him to leave the country with the dogs and cats in case the Taliban shot the animals, with one canine stabbed to death.
He said: "It was the staff who made the decision for me to make a second attempt on my own. They said, 'Don't stay. You've got to take the dogs out. The Taliban will just shoot them.'
"I gave them three months wages – that's put away securely – and a couple of hundred dollars extra. I said, 'Put this in your pocket. Do not spend it. I want it back when I see you in England. That's your emergency money'. Then I went round and hugged every single one of them, including the girls. Everybody was so emotional."
Farthing 'not worried about what some politician is saying about me'
Mr Farthing was criticised after leaving an expletive-laden message for a Government aide amid the evacuation of 150 animals but said he is “not worried about what some politician is saying about me”.
He had apologised after a recording, obtained by The Times, captured him berating Peter Quentin, a special adviser to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and accusing the staffer of “blocking” efforts to arrange the evacuation flight.
Following the privately funded charter flight’s arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport Mr Farthing, who was speaking from Oslo, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday he was “incredibly embarrassed about my language” in the voicemail.
Operation Ark work continues
Mr Farthing had said he was still working to help evacuate 68 Nowzad animal shelter staff and family members, including 25 children and one new-born baby, from Afghanistan as part of his Operation Ark campaign.
The campaign became hugely topical on social media, with Mr Wallace complaining it was distracting from the focus on evacuating the most vulnerable out of Afghanistan.
Mr Wallace also said some of Mr Farthing’s more militant supporters had “taken up too much time” of senior commanders.
A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com