CHERRY HILL — On Feb 23, Camden Catholic High School students here were treated to a visit from a former sergeant in the Royal Marines (United Kingdom) and founder of an organization that reunites stray dogs and cats with soldiers.
Pen Farthing was a member of the Kilo Company of 42 Command Royal Marines that landed in Now Zad, Afghanistan, in November 2006 to bring security for the local population amidst war with the Taliban. He noticed the frequency of stray dogs wandering through the neighborhood, and the tendency of locals to use these animals for brutal, moneymaking dog fights.
After breaking up the fights, Farthing befriended one of the dogs, and named him “Nowzad.” Soon, he found that caring for his new companion provided relief from the stress of his tour of duty.
After his time in Afghanistan ended, Farthing endured a difficult process to bring Nowzad back home with him to Britain. He then realized he wanted to do the same for other soldiers in Afghanistan who found four-legged buddies.
Today the organization Nowzad Dogs oversees the only official animal rescue shelter in Afghanistan with an animal clinic, and helps reunite companion animals with their soldiers.
Farthing is also founder of the Soldiers’ Animal Companions (SAC) Fund, dedicated to raising money for Nowzad Dogs.
Camden Catholic’s SAC Fund students raised over $5,000 last year at Camden Catholic through such fundraisers as a car wash and T-shirt sale.
“Thank you for being enthusiastic,” Farthing told the students. “I’m touched that you guys worked so hard for us.”
Farthing shared photos of his time in Afghanistan and the many animals, sporting wounds or injuries due to fighting or through contracting disease, that are taken into the rescue shelter to find them homes with families in Afghanistan, or to reunite them with soldiers.