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Surrey, B.C. –
A woman who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took over in 2021 was reunited with her dog near the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Surrey, B.C., Saturday.
A tearful Freshta Siddiqui, accompanied by her mother and SPCA representatives, waited anxiously to see her dog Lucky escorted across the border and into her waiting arms.
“I’m filled with this overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude,” Siddiqui told reporters.
“This is the day I’m getting the fruit of my prayers.”
Siddiqui says she came across Lucky, a now-three-and-a-half-year-old Anatolian shepherd, in Kabul, Afghanistan, back in 2019.
She said she heard him and another dog screaming in pain.
“They were being stoned by too many kids in the street and I could not stand it. I went there grabbed Lucky and took him home,” Siddiqui said.
She says Lucky quickly became part of her family.
After the Taliban took over in May of 2021, following the withdrawal of the United States military, Siddiqui, a women’s rights activist, quickly became a target.
Siddiqui says she and her mom narrowly escaped an attack that September thanks to her faithful pup.
“Lucky saved us, actually. He barked and let us know that there were Taliban already inside our place,” she said.
Siddiqui says they got away, but she knew at that point she had to get Lucky out of the country.
“I was praying day and night. I couldn’t leave him in a country like Afghanistan,” she said.
Siddiqui’s prayers were eventually answered, as the SPCA and partners, including the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, banded together on a mission to evacuate the animal safely.
Last February, Lucky was among nearly 300 animals on a massive converted military aircraft that touched down at Vancouver International Airport.
“Freshta’s story really, really touched our hearts,” said Lori Kalef of SPCA International.
“She reached out to us after she knew she couldn’t get a place in Canada yet and asked us to keep looking after Lucky,” Kalef explained. “It was very costly and time consuming, but we would never say no to her.”
Lucky was taken to a dog trainer in Oregon, but after Siddiqui and her mom finally secured visas and a home in Vancouver, the plans for Saturday’s special reunion were put in motion.
“Lucky means family to me,” said Siddiqui. “Lucky means a part of my heart that was gone, and now I have him.”