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War Dog Who Was Erroneously Euthanized Gets Hero Award

Target, the heroic dog who saved dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan by attacking a suicide bomber only to be killed in a foulup at an...

Maria Goodavage  |  Jan 13th 2011

Target, the heroic dog who saved dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan by attacking a suicide bomber only to be killed in a foulup at an Arizona animal shelter, has just received a posthumous award: Paw Print Post’s (USA Today’s pet blog) Most Heroic Dog of 2010.

You may remember her from the stories we wrote in November about the terrible shelter mistake that cost her her life. It took a huge effort to get her to the US to be together with one of the soldiers whose life she saved. She was living with her loving new family for five months when she somehow got out their back door, and ended up in a shelter. U.S. National Guard Sergeant Sgt. Terry Young located her, but before he could get her out of the shelter, a worker had put her down. (The worker has been fired.)

Some good has come from this tragedy. Young and his wife, Melissa, are planning a no-kill shelter near their Phoenix-area home. Its name: Target’s Bunker, a Safe Haven for All Animals. So Target will keep saving lives. The project got a $1,090 infusion when the owners of two of the five Heroic Dog finalists threw their support to Target, because they thought she was truly the deserving dog. They also pointed people to a site where they could donate to the cause, which is still in its infancy (no nonprofit status yet, but it should come).

(If you feel a hankering to grab a hanky, check out a heartwrenching memorial video of her on the Target’s Bunker site.)

I’d like to shake the paws of two top contenders for the hero award who asked their many fans to vote instead for Target. The human halves of Surf Dog Ricochet and Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog had a meeting of the minds when they become hero finalists.

As Ricochet “wrote” on her site, “I was excited, and honored (by the nomination). I started asking my supporters to vote for me, but quickly started feeling awkward about it…like it just wasn’t right. A sense of sadness fell over me. That’s because one of the other nominees was Target. And, Target deserves this title… she IS this title.” With Ricochet’s and Sparkles’ supporters backing Target in addition to her original supporters, she was a shoo-in.

What a heartwarming, positive story to come from such a sad, dark event. (A big thank-you to my Dogster friend Santiagofdz for giving me the heads up about the hero award.)

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