Great Britain, US organization help to bring military pets home

By Mark Bullion

September 9, 2013 Updated Sep 9, 2013 at 7:36 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- How far would you go to save a stray or abandoned dog or cat? Better yet, take them on as your own? For the men and women fighting overseas in Afghanistan, that process just became a bit easier thanks to a United Kingdom organization now collaborating with efforts right here in central Illinois.   
 

Pen Farthing is the founder of Nowzad, a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom and United States. Back in 2006, Farthing was serving in Afghanistan. While there, he met man's best friend after rescuing him from a dog fight. He named him Nowzad after the town he was serving in.

"Getting him out was just my sole focus, we were doing our job as a Marine, but I always knew that I had to get that dog out of Afghanistan and back to my home in England," said Farthing.

And he did. After that, Farthing made it his mission to help fellow soldiers do the same with their overseas pets.

"To actually see these reunions and see the photographs and soldiers themselves and the dogs just being normal like a U.S. dog just playing in the park and just sitting at home is just plain fantastic," added Farthing.

Farthing knows how much a dog or a cat can effect a soldier mentally, both overseas and here at home.

"We've had three U.S. veterans have one of our dogs from Afghanistan be trained as a service dog to actually now allow them to get their lives back."

The only setback is funding, something the organization is in dire need of.

Deb Yang, a Peoria resident has opened the first office in the country in the River City in hopes of expanding their outreach for support.

"We have costs that come up that have to be paid and for these dogs to survive for the soldiers, it's vital," said the US Director of Operations.

So from the tough battles to wagging tails, there's no wonder why they say a dog really is man's best friend.

The cost for shipping the animals is a hefty one, averaging around $3,000-$4,000.

To learn how to donate, just visit www.nowzad.org.

All donations are tax deductibe.