One shivering, starving mongrel changed Pen Farthing's life. As a Royal Marine, serving in Afghanistan at a remote desert outpost in Helmand Province, he was horrified by the number of abandoned dogs and by the vile, organised dog fights.
This centuries-old 'sport', which involves slicing off the ears and tails of potential fighting dogs without anaesthetic, is hugely popular among rival clans.
The owners of winning dogs earn money and prestige. As Pen, a dog owner himself when at home, writes: 'Dogs in Afghanistan were extremely far down in the welfare list … although, to be fair, human life wasn't exactly that far up it.' And so, after one appalled look, he sprang into action.
His first rescue dog was cruelly tethered with wire and had been tormented by Kalashnikov-toting Afghan police. Pen actually risked his life, making himself a conspicuous target for the lurking Taliban by scaling the compound wall, throwing the terrified, pain-racked dog a sausage laced with a tranquilliser, cutting the tether and freeing him to roam with the pack which prowled the camp perimeter.