Charity helps foreign troops take Afghan pets home

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Louise Hastie, a former British soldier, runs Nowzad, a charity that reunites Afghan pets with Western soldiers and contractors who can’t bear to leave them behind. All of the dogs adopted are strays, like Joey. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

KABUL , Afghanistan — She was just an ordinary brown mutt, a stray, but Pvt. Conrad Lewis loved her.

Lewis, a British paratrooper in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, adopted the dog and named her Pegasus. Everyone called her Peg.

In his letters home, Lewis described Peg as a member of his military family: “I have taught her to sit and give me her paw…. She patrols with us, she is not afraid of the Taliban or their bullets.”

When Lewis was on Christmas leave in Britain in 2010, he told his father, Tony, that Peg was so important to him that he wanted to bring her home when he returned from his deployment. “That’s your job, Dad,” he said.

Two months later, in February 2011, Pvt. Lewis was dead at 22, shot by a sniper.

Tony Lewis and his wife, Sandi, were determined to honor their son’s wish. A friend put them in touch with Pen Farthing, a former British Royal Marine whose charity, Nowzad, helps reunite adopted pets with soldiers and contractors after they leave Afghanistan.

The parents, the charity and Conrad’s fellow paratroopers hatched a plan: Peg was slipped aboard a military helicopter, then disguised as a military working dog. Afghan army soldiers were paid to deliver her to Kabul.