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`MISSION POSSIBLE’: Aviacon flies abandoned pets out of Kabul to Canada

Five months since the end of the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Kabul, 156 dogs and 133 cats have finally landed in Canada, safe and sound. They departed Kabul on an Aviacon Zitotrans Il-76 on January 30,2022.

When Western diplomats, as well as American troops and contractors evacuated from Kabul in August of 2021, some of their pets were left in the care of Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR), asmall veterinary clinic run by Charlotte Maxwell-Jones. This heroic American woman would spend the next 6 months trying get the thestranded animals out.

Avicon’s RA-76502 plane took off from Kabul on Sunday and landed in British Columbia two days later after stopovers in Turkey and Iceland. The original plan was to go East via Siberia with the final leg from Yakutsk to Vancouver, but the route had to be changed because of the harsh weather conditions.

The aviation part of ‘Mission Possible’, as it was dubbed by animal-lovers, required a fair share of creative thinking from a loadmaster as he had to fit 146 cats and 171 dogs in an IL-76. This was ‘cat-crate Tetris’, as it was nicely put by Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, who supervised the loading at Hamid Kharzai International.

The crates were stacked carefully in rows, which allowed volunteers and a veterinary team onboard to check on the animals, feed, water and clean them throughout the flight. To make their experience even less stressful, the pressure inside the aircraft was optimized and the temperature was set to 20-23°C.

There were two vets onboard, Derick Stone from KSAR and Jeff Berri, a volunteer from another animal rescue agency, No Dogs Left Behind. Along with our cargo deck crew, they did their best to make sure the animals were safe and feeling well throughout the long journey. They were assisted by dozens of volunteers in Turkey and Iceland during the stopovers.

After arriving in Canada, the refugee animals were transferred to a specially built facility at Vancouver International Airport. Efforts are being made to reunite the pets with their owners.

We’re happy to be a part of the rescue efforts put forward by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and several other animal welfare organizations that made this mission possible.

Our animal rescue flight was the most tracked on the planet when it arrived in Vancouver.



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