UPDATE: In May, 2015 Gary was reunited with his soldier in the UK.
“Gary, is settling in well at home. His family say, “Thank you from guys and I that were deployed in Kabul appreciate your work in getting Gary home.”
Meet Gary. Gary is a cat that lives in Afghanistan. A group of British soldiers is now crowdfunding to help bring Gary to the UK.
“We are a group of British soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan and during our time here we have adopted (or been adopted by) a cat who we have named Gary,” the group notes on its Just Giving Get Gary Home page.
“Everyone has become extremely fond of Gary, he is a real character and no one wants to leave him behind. Please donate money to help us and Nowzad Dogs cover the cost to get him home to the UK for a better life with one of the soldiers.”
But the effort isn’t just about Gary.
Nowzad Dogs is a registered charity borne out of the arrival of Kilo Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines. The group landed in the war torn town of Now Zad in Helmand Province in 2006 with an eye to providing stability for locals. They also found stray dogs and cats also needed their help
Royal Marine Sergeant Pen Farthing is credited with leading the charge.
“Breaking up an organised dog fight that was taking place right outside their remote compound, Pen never realised that one of those fighting dogs would then befriend him. The Royal Marine couldn’t say no to those big sad eyes and the now very former fighting dog became the Royal Marines four legged buddy and got a name – ‘Nowzad.'”
That story was published in a the book, One Dog at a Time, which in turn funnels its proceeds to the Nowzad Dogs Charity. It operates the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan.
And now, it’s facing additional complications as a new directive from the European Union prevents bringing animals into the region unless the owner also arrives within five days. It makes things more tricky for UK-based soldiers and expensive, but not impossible.
Meanwhile, the organization is now pooling its fundraising efforts into securing food, warm bedding and fuel to get the clinic and the animals through “this harsh Afghan winter.”
The clinic continues to accept injured animals and remains busy spaying and neutering strays in a bid to keep the wayward critter population under control.
By the way, Pen Farthing (below) was named CNN’s Hero of the Year last December, for his work with the charity; what it has done for animals in Afghanistan, the rehabilitation of soldiers back at home and for helping save Afghan kids from contracting rabies from stray dogs.
But back to Gary. Comedian Ricky Gervais recently tweeted about the campaign.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 19, 2015
So far, the fundraising effort has soared past £1,600 from more than 100 donors. The soldiers say they need £2,500 to get Gary safely in the UK.
Photos Nowzad Dogs/Facebook