A Tennessee woman who owns an animal rescue center in Kabul was not allowed passage home by the Department of Defense because she carried a disabled puppy in her arms — one of 130 animals she was ordered to leave behind in the final days of airlifts.
Charlotte Maxwell-Jones refused to board the plane without her puppy on Monday, so the military ordered her to leave and turn loose 130 crated dogs that mostly belonged to Americans and Afghans who evacuated, according to social media postings.
This occurred even though Maxwell-Jones secured flights from nonprofit organizations that had permission to land in a neutral country.
She left the airport after being stuck there for six days and returned home to an uncertain fate.
The Taliban visited Maxwell-Jones at home last week and ordered her to leave with her employees, she said in a tearful video posted on Twitter. She raised $703,705 on a GoFundMe page for an animal evacuation and desperately sought a landing permit.
“Five minutes ago, a fairly large group of Taliban left my lawn. … One of them had a grenade launcher. They told me I should leave immediately and tried to put guards inside my house. … We settled on outside my house,” Maxwell-Jones said in her video. “They have said they will give us safe passage to the airport for as large a group that we have. They told me to leave first. It’s very obvious what will happen.”
Maxwell-Jones was allowed to airlift military dogs, so she handed 46 animals to Veteran Sheepdogs of America for transport to Turkey.
A video posted Tuesday said the dogs were in a hangar and given water in preparation for transport. However, the remaining dogs weren’t so fortunate. Maxwell-Jones begged the military to allow her to open bags of kibble and spread it across the tarmac for the suddenly homeless dogs, according to social media.
“In the end, the dogs and their caretakers were explicitly NOT allowed to board military aircraft, and numerous private charter aircraft were not granted access to the airport either,” SPCA International said in a statement.
“Charlotte was informed that most of the [shelter] dogs had to be released into the airport on August 30 as the airport was evacuated – turning once rescued shelter dogs into homeless strays.”
SPC International blasted the U.S. government for ignoring its pleas and not recognizing “the human connection to animals” in a recent suspension of dog transport from 113 nations.
“We applied for an Emergency Exemption so that Charlotte and the dogs could get out on our chartered flight this week. But the CDC’s adherence to its import policy during this time of crisis put animals and people at risk,” SPCAI said. “We are alarmed that leaders at the CDC are not bringing a more balanced perspective to the importation of dogs, especially after the U.S. House of Representatives rebuked CDC on this issue and passed an amendment to restore a proper screening process.”
The Department of Defense was forced to address an outcry over the military dog issue on Tuesday but said nothing of how they left the country or why an American with dogs who had a flight plan was left behind.
“The U.S. military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, to include the reported ‘military working dogs,’” a spokesperson said.
Regarding Maxwell-Jones, the DoD said: “Despite an ongoing complicated and dangerous retrograde mission, U.S. forces went to great lengths to assist the Kabul Small Animal Rescue as much as possible.”
The lack of respect shown to military dogs by leaving their escape to a nonprofit group is shameful, retired special operations Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc told the Washington Examiner. He said these evacuation policies “start at the top” and trickle down without any basis in reality.
“You need to have latitude to make concessions, and in this case, that woman should be allowed on the plane with the puppy,” he said.