U.S. military working dogs in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2017.

U.S. military working dogs in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2017. U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Jared J. Duhon

No US Military Dogs Were Left Behind in Afghanistan, DOD Says

Pentagon officials say the caged dogs in viral photos aren’t military working dogs, all of which were evacuated.

While animal rescue groups across the globe race to get dogs out of Afghanistan, Pentagon officials want to be very clear: The U.S. military did not leave any of its working dogs behind. 

Viral photos purporting to show dogs locked in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport have raised the hackles of U.S. lawmakers and dog lovers alike. But the photos are not of military working dogs, as the American Humane Society and others have suggested

“To correct erroneous reports, the U.S. military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, to include the reported ‘military working dogs.’ Photos circulating online were animals under the care of the Kabul Small Animal Rescue,” Kirby told Defense One. 

Kabul Small Animal Rescue is a veterinary clinic and animal rescue organization that has operated for years in Afghanistan. “Currently we are working to help anyone who wants to evacuate their animals do so,” the group wrote on their Facebook page

Former pets and shelter dogs may be in peril under Afghanistan’s new rulers, who posted four men in front of KSAR’s office, NBC News reported: “The Taliban are notoriously unfriendly to both those who work with foreigners or animals, which they view as unclean. In the past they disapproved as dogs as pets.” 

Kirby told Defense One that the U.S. military “went to great lengths to assist” KSAR amid “an ongoing complicated and dangerous retrograde mission.” 

The State Department, likewise, has evacuated all of its working dogs. 

“None were left behind,” a spokesperson told Defense One.

Still, various charities and programs have said they were working against the clock to evacuate “military working dogs.” Many of the organizations have shared the same photo that DoD has confirmed does not depict military working dogs.

While efforts continue to get hundreds of pets and shelter animals out of Afghanistan, the U.S.’s military working dogs are at least not among them. 

Jacqueline Feldscher contributed to this report.