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Cats' Adventures & Travels 24
Following on from Koshka's story . . .
Other Afghan Rescue Cats
Koshka is far from the only animal, or the only cat, to be befriended by soldiers and taken home, usually to the United States, and there are a few organisations that help with the formalities and arrange travel. In early October 2013 both the Soldiers' Animal Companions (SAC) Fund and Nowzad ran an appeal on Facebook that raised the necessary funds within a day to send a cat called Mousetrap from Afghanistan to the US, to be reunited with the soldier who couldn't bear to leave her behind when his tour of duty was done, and she was due to make the journey soon afterwards.
Her story is best told in her soldier's own words, very slightly edited. His name has not been given. (Forward Operating Base Sharana is located in the Paktika Province of eastern Afghanistan. It's a hub for many, if not most, of the construction projects and training that go on in Afghanistan.)
At the time of writing (mid-December 2013) Tinker Bell (aka Tinker) was in the process of being rescued from Afghanistan by the soldier who befriended him: 'in the process' because money was being raised to fund his return to the United States, and well over half the required sum of 2900 US dollars had already been donated. As with Mousetrap, Nowzad and the Soldiers' Animal Companion Fund were handling his case.
The cat was abandoned and living in the cold when the soldier found him shivering and looking for food. At first he was wary, as would be expected, but an offering of tuna was too tempting to resist and so he followed his new friend into his small room, which was nice and warm. After some stroking and being talked to, Tinker Bell was purring and feeling better; and he was able to curl up on the soldier's bed. As they got to know each other better the soldier, due to return home before long, was determined that he would offer his new friend a better life, and so the help of the charities was enlisted.
Links and further information
The Soldiers' Animal Companions Fund (SAC Fund) is a US charitable fund established to raise tax-deductible United States donations for the British charity Nowzad Dogs, a registered non-profit charity in the UK assisting with companion animal rescues from Afghanistan. The SAC Fund also supports and raises funds for War Dogs Making It Home, a US charity taking dogs from rescue shelters to train as service animals for returning veterans with PTSD and brain injury.
Despite its name, Nowzad Dogs has assisted American, British and other service personnel, and some contractors, to bring many befriended cats as well as dogs out of Afghanistan (on occasions from some other countries too, including Iraq) and arranging transportation to new homes with their soldiers in the States, the UK, Canada and elsewhere. This of course is subject to the necessary funding being raised in each case. Much more about these and other activities can be read on their websites, and by following both organisations on their social media pages. For instance, Nowzad also works towards improved animal welfare in Afghanistan, and offers veterinary services at its clinic there.
Nowzad also has on its website the individual stories with photos of many of the successfully rescued animals. The direct link is below, and browsing through these at the time of writing revealed the stories of upwards of 70 cats, with the last entry having been added in May 2013 there have been more since, including Mousetrap and Tinker Bell above.
Also carrying out similar important work in Afghanistan is the Afghan Stray Animals League (ASAL). ASAL was the lead charity in assisting Staff Sergeant Jesse Knott to take Koshka, befriended while serving there, home to the States. This rescue was fraught with danger, and the pair's touching story is covered on our separate page for Koshka, with information about ASAL in the links at the end. In November 2013 Koshka won the ASPCA's Cat of the Year award.
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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
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