In this one-off special episode we focus exclusively on the inside story of ‘Operation Ark’, the campaign set up by Afghanistan-based animal rescue charity Nowzad to evacuate its staff and animals from Kabul as the city fell to the Taliban.
In a remarkable two week period social media lit up as people everywhere demanded action to get Nowzad staff and their animals out of danger; British media first embraced former marine and Nowzad founder Pen Farthing then turned against him as a government minister and his special advisor spun what had always been a humanitarian rescue mission into a false argument about putting ‘pets before people’; and with an aircraft ready to fly into Kabul Airport the story became a race against time to land as air corridors shifted and the few remaining troops that controlled access to entrance gates and landing strips were pulled out.
While all this was taking place, Off the Leash’s Dominic Dyer found himself becoming the public face of Operation Ark, explaining the same points over again on multiple TV and radio appearances and – in increasingly frustrated and exasperated tones – on his own social media platforms.
Operation Ark continues to work for the evacuation of all Nowzad staff, but with at least Pen Farthing and many of the charity’s animals safe Dominic can now look back on a tumultuous fortnight, the barriers he came up against, and the extraordinarily compassionate and courageous people he found himself fighting for. As he explains in this podcast he initially had no idea how consuming the battle to ‘rescue the animal rescuers’ would be but felt compelled to do whatever he could because, as he reflects, “if you’re fortunate enough to be part of a team like that, make the most of it – that’s what makes life worth living”.