Afghan Dogs Found at Kabul Airport amid Evacuation Train with New Handlers: Report

Employees of a security company said they are caring for dozens of animals that can detect drugs and explosive devices

Afghanistan dogs
Dozens of dogs found at Kabul International Airport after the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan are training with a security employees. Photo: KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty

More than two dozen Afghan dogs stranded amid last month's evacuations reportedly have a new home, new handlers and are being given new responsibilities.

Hewad Azizi, who works for a security company at the Kabul International Airport, told the AFP that he and his colleagues are now feeding, housing and working with 30 dogs at a training facility on the airport grounds.

"When I saw [the soldiers leaving] I went to save the dogs," Azizi said, adding that about half of the dogs were found in portions of the airport that were controlled by the U.S. military during the chaotic evacuation of troops and civilians in Afghanistan in August. The other dogs were found in portions of the airport controlled by Afghan police.

Images of dogs allegedly left behind in and around the Kabul airport prompted accusations of abandonment — but the Department of Defense said any reports about the U.S. forces leaving military animals behind were "erroneous."

A Pentagon spokesman told PEOPLE in August: "Our military working dogs were safely evacuated."

Rather, it seemed, the dogs belonged to contractors or other groups who were seeking to flee.

Afghanistan dogs
Handlers say the dogs in their care are skilled in detecting drugs and explosives. KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty

Azizi and his colleagues are unsure who was previously responsible for the dogs, AFP reports. The focus is now on caring for the animals and putting them to work in airport security operations according to their skill sets.

"We have done training with them to find out what they are used for exactly," Azizi said, adding that some of the dogs were trained to detect bombs.

Azizi said his favorite dog is a dark brown Malinois named Rex who is now practicing sniffing out boxes that smell like explosive devices on the grounds of the airport. When Rex returns successfully with the fake bomb, he gets to play with a ball as a reward.

Afghanistan dogs
A Pentagon spokesman previously told PEOPLE that U.S. military dogs were safely evacuated. KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty

"We have different dogs here. Narcotic dogs or drug dogs and explosive or bomb dogs," K9 supervisor Mohamad Mourid said in an AFP video posted on Twitter.

"We're training with different materials with them. Now we keep them here," Mourid said. "We look, we train, we see how we can use them on the ground."

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