Did the United States leave behind military working dogs in cages in Afghanistan? No, that's not true: "No military working dogs were left behind," the Pentagon told Lead Stories. The photograph of dogs in cages at the Hamid Karzai International Airport were dogs that were under the care of an animal rescue organization, not the U.S. military.
The claim appeared as a Facebook post (archived here) on August 31, 2021. It opens:
This is true! Just saw it in the news! These dogs were left behind and almost 200 others!
Not only did they leave Americans and Billions and Billions of weapons and black hawk helicopters behind, but they also left our beautiful service dogs behind. Heartless and so unnecessary. In cages left to starve.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Sep 1 21:35:34 2021 UTC)
The photograph that shows more than a dozen animal crates with dogs inside in front of a damaged military helicopter does not show military working dogs, Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon told Lead Stories via email on September 1, 2021:
The U.S. priority mission was the evacuation of U.S. citizens, SIV and vulnerable Afghans. However, to correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, to include the reported "military working dogs." No military working dogs were left behind. Photos circulating online were animals under the care of the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs under the care of the U.S. military. Despite an ongoing complicated and dangerous retrograde mission, U.S. forces went to great lengths to assist the Kabul Small Animal Rescue as much as possible.
"SIV" is a reference to Afghans with "special immigrant visas," such as translators who had worked with U.S. forces.
Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby tweeted a statement from his official account @PentagonPresSec regarding the dogs:
To correct erroneous reports, the U.S. Military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs. Photos circulating online were animals under the care of the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs under our care.-- John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 31, 2021
Pahon told Lead Stories the animals in the photograph were the responsibility of private companies. He said the Kabul Small Animal Rescue was working on saving the dogs.
The Military Working Dog Team Support Association, Inc., which says it is a nonprofit that supports military working dog teams, also posted a statement that there were no working military dogs abandoned in Kabul on the group's Facebook page on August 31, 2021:
The image of the dogs in cages was posted on the TikTok page of Veteran Sheep Dogs by Joshua Hosler on August 30, 2021. He said his organization was taking care of evacuating the dogs from Afghanistan. He claims he is a Marine who was a bomb dog handler in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the video he says, "This is a picture of the 51 military dogs that were left behind that are now my organization's responsibility to get them out hopefully."
PLEASE MESSAGE US FOR HELP!♬ original sound - Veteran Sheepdogs of America
'Our team has worked relentlessly with numerous dedicated charities to rescue our dogs and all the animals under KSAR's care,' the team said in a statement to Military Times. 'We have no intention of giving up on our dogs, despite the gruelling setbacks, and we will continue to work with a growing and dedicated team to evacuate all our dogs.'