WASHINGTON (WJW) — The Pentagon is saying the United States did not leave any service dogs behind in Afghanistan, after a photo of animals left in cages went viral.
“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,” said Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby in a tweet.
Kirby said the pictures were of animals “under the care of the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs under our care.”
The animal rescue is a volunteer organization working to remove animals from the area.
The dog photos went viral after animal rights activists and also those critical of Biden took issue with them.
The United States officially exited the country Monday after a 20-year war. President Joe Biden gave a speech Tuesday defending his handling of the removal of troops and others from the area.
The final weeks of the war were characterized by a rush to evacuate Americans and Afghans whose lives are endangered by the Taliban. Thousands of troops had spent a harrowing two weeks protecting the airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans, Americans and others seeking to escape a country once again ruled by Taliban militants.
As the final five U.S. military transport aircraft lifted off out of Afghanistan, they left behind up to 200 Americans and thousands of desperate Afghans who couldn’t get out and now must rely on the Taliban to allow their departure.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.