The man who volunteered to help transport Pen Farthing's animals for free

The founder of a Welsh animal charity has spoken to ITV News about how he helped in Pen Farthing's rescue mission to bring hundreds of cats and dogs to the UK from Afghanistan. Siôn Jenkins reports.

Graham Geran, who runs the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary in Powys, volunteered to collect the animals from Heathrow Airport with a special transport vehicle free of charge when they landed from now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Farthing fled Kabul with more than 150 rescued dogs and cats Credit: Graham Geran

Former Royal Marine and founder of the Nowzad animal charity Pen Farthing arrived at London's Heathrow Airport in a privately funded charter flight after his campaign to rescue the animals made international headlines.

There are thought to be more than 100 dogs and 70 cats are in quarantine kennels across the UK, with hundreds of people looking to adopt them.

On arriving safely in the UK, Mr Farthing told ITV Good Morning Britain: "It was very mixed emotions, to be honest. Getting animals out was part of the mission but it wasn't the whole mission."

Graham Geran with one many dogs brought over to the UK Credit: Graham Geran

Graham said he arrived at Heathrow airport with around 18 other vehicles who were all involved in helping to transport the animals to various quarantine centres around the country.

"I was up at three o'clock in the morning as I had to be in Heathrow for 7:30... and then it was a case of waiting for the checks and then get them from the plane into the quarantine centre.

Graham said once people found out he was involved in transporting the animals, he received "numerous phone calls" of people wanting to adopt them.

"People want to adopt the dogs, so they will go out to quarantine and to good homes."

He added dogs are not "appreciated" in Afghanistan like they are in other countries.

"Street dogs from the likes of Afghanistan, they're treated really badly. They don't appreciate dogs, but all the dogs want to do is be loved. They came out of the crate and they were straight up jumping on us."

Pen Farthing pictured with a street dog in Afghanistan

The Operation Ark campaign has caused controversy, despite receiving a huge amount of public support.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace complained some of Mr Farthing's more militant supporters had "taken up too much time" of senior commanders.

The ex-Marine also apologised for leaving an expletive-laden message for a Government aide as he was trying to carry out the evacuation.

Mr Farthing is still working to help evacuate 68 Nowzad animal shelter staff and family members, including 25 children and one newborn baby, from Afghanistan.

Nicola Pollard, head keeper at Graham's sanctuary defended the campaign in response to those who say the animals should not have been prioritised over people.

Nicola Pollard defended the campaign following accusations animals should not have been prioritised over Afghan refugees

"They haven't been prioritised over people because people can't go in the hold of a plane.

"It doesn't hurt anyone with them coming over - the servicemen that have been over in Afghanistan keeping us safe, they've had a lot of benefit of those animals over the years so it's nice for us to do something for them."