An Afghan dog’s life is not one of comfort at the best of times; hunting for scraps of food or hiding from the hot sun during the summer and the freezing cold of an Afghan winter night. Sadly, many animals in Afghanistan are mistreated and abused by locals, with children often not knowing any better and thinking they are just playing.

In November 2006, 42 Commando Royal Marines (Kilo Company) arrived in the war torn town of Now Zad in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Their mission was to provide stability for the local people during a period of ever decreasing security.

Within a few days of arrival, Royal Marine Sergeant Pen Farthing, broke up a dog fight that was taking place outside their compound. So grateful of the lifesaving act, one of the dogs befriended him. I couldn’t say no to those big sad eyes,” said Sergeant Farthing,”The now, very former, fighting dog, became my buddy and found himself a name – Nowzad.”

It transpired that it wasn’t only the local people that needed their help. Sergeant Farthing went on to rescue another two undernourished strays, ‘RPG and ‘Jena’, from the onslaught of the extreme Afghan winter. Shortly after, ‘Tali’ crept in under the gate carrying six puppies followed by an injured ‘AK’.

In the Marines’ compound, Pen Farthing and two fellow Marines built the dogs a modest run and a mortar shelter for safety and warmth. The dogs went from scavenging food to eating two meals a day courtesy of the left over military rations that the Royal Marines didn’t eat.

At the end of the deployment, there was no way that Pen could leave the dogs behind so a plan was hatched to transport them to an animal rescue centre in the north of the country. Dog owners globally heard of the determination and compassion that the marines had shown in their attempts to rescue the dogs and so the charity Nowzad Dogs was formed during May 2007.

Sadly, many animals in Afghanistan are mistreated and abused by locals, with children often not knowing any better. It is vital as part of Nowzad Dogs work and overall mission to educate children on animal welfare.

In 2013, Nowzad and Wetnose launched an education campaign that will send 250 footballs, retired footballer Duncan Ferguson and a TV crew to Afghanistan to film Duncan and children playing with footballs saying ‘kick a ball not a puppy.’

The aim is to educate young Afghan children that animals feel pain and are not inanimate objects. They will provide footballs, clothing and shoes enabling the children to play football properly while also raising awareness of the problem back in the UK.

As a result of their tireless work, Nowzad Dogs has been shortlisted in the Hero Award category of the 2013 Burgess Wetnose Animal Rescue Awards, which took place in Knightsbridge on Monday 11th March.

To find out more about the Wetnose Awards 2013 check out our ‘Wetnose Winners’ blog post http://www.burgesspetcare.co.uk/blog/wetnose-awards-winners-2013