Afghanistan Dog Hero Accidentally Euthanized

She saved dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan earlier this year by attacking a suicide bomber (she was pregnant at the time). She survived being shot...

Maria Goodavage  |  Nov 16th 2010


She saved dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan earlier this year by attacking a suicide bomber (she was pregnant at the time). She survived being shot and run over by locals, soldiers say. She got her name, Target, because that’s what she seemed to be in Afghanistan. “There’s no killing this dog for sure. She’s pretty much been through it all, ” U.S. National Guard Sgt. Christopher Duke said upon being reunited with her in July, after a rescue mission brought her and another heroic stray dog back to the U.S. Duke adopted her friend, Rufus.

Target was adopted by U.S. National Guard Sergeant Sgt. Terry Young, whose life she helped save by thwarting the suicide bomber. “When you go through such an intense experience with somebody, albeit a dog, you just grow a very strong bond,” Sgt. Young said in a news report on KGUN. (See video, below.) Target’s selfless act left Young close to tears, “It…(he paused and could not continue)….oh my god, sorry!” Sgt. Young said as he buried his face in his hands. (This is before she was euthanized.)

On Veteran’s Day, she somehow escaped Young’s house. She eventually ended up at a local animal shelter, but before Sgt. Young could get her back today, someone took her from her cage Monday morning and euthanized her instead of another dog.

“I’m an absolute wreck today and it’s everything in my power to hold it together for me and my family,” Sgt. Young said in an e-mail to KPHO, reports AOL News.

“My 4-year-old son just can’t understand what is going on with Target and keeps asking me to get the poison out of her and bring her home. They don’t want her to go be with God yet,” he wrote.

The Pinal County Animal Care and Control Shelter employee who made the utterly tragic mistake has been placed on administrative leave. The shelter’s director says she is devastated, and that preliminary investigations show the employee failed to follow clear-cut shelter procedure.

Here’s the video I mentioned above, in which Sgt. Young choked up when talking of his beloved dog.

The video below shows Target and Sgt. Young when they were reunited.

Dogster readers, I’m sorry to give you two early-morning heart-ripping stories the first two days of this week, but they are important ones. Maybe this devastatingly sad situation will at least call attention to how easy it is for shelters to make a mistake, and prevent this from happening to other pets. It’s unthinkable that this could happen to any dog, but because of Target’s history, it’s that much more awful. RIP, sweet girl…

Update Nov. 20: The New York Times reports that the shelter employee who killed Target has been fired.