Target in Memoriam: A Canine Hero | Reader's Digest

Target in Memoriam: A Canine Hero

Target saved almost 50 soldiers in Afghanistan. Learn how this canine hero continues to make a difference, in memory, and why microchips can save lives.

By Gary Sledge from Reader's Digest, | August 2011

Target the Wonder Dog in Happier Times with Sgt. Terry YoungPhotographed by Tom SpitzYoung is writing a book, Target the Wonder Dog, with coauthor Pat Jordan, due out in December.
“Target was a goofy, happy dog,” Sgt. Terry Young, 38, says. “One day I was playing quarterback on the parade grounds of our compound in Paktia Province. I dropped back to pass, and this dog rushed me, dancing all about.”

When Target and Rufus were wounded in the suicide bomb attack, it was Young, a medic, who nursed them back to health. He adopted Target when she came to the United States. “She was getting used to our house and to our little male Pomeranian,” Young recalls. But on Veterans Day, November 11, 2010, Target, accustomed to ranging around the desert of Afghanistan, wandered off from Young’s backyard in San Tan Valley, Arizona.

Target was picked up by animal control. Young found her picture on the shelter’s website and paid the fee online to claim her. But when Young went to pick her up, he discovered that Target had been mistaken for another dog and euthanized. “I was an absolute wreck,” Young says.

Young heard from people all over the world who had followed Target’s progress on her Facebook page. Her death became a focus of the No Kill Advocacy Center’s attempt to raise awareness about the millions of dogs and cats annually put to death in this country. The Puppy Rescue Mission, which had brought Target to the United States, now encourages owners to fit their pets with microchips so they can be traced if missing.

Target, who helped save the lives of almost 50 soldiers in Afghanistan, continues to help save the lives of pets in this country.

  • Your Comments

    • DebraDownSth

      This man killed that dog by his stupidity and letting it roam loose. HE KILLED IT. He did it. Now he writes a book? I hope he sells NOTHING. He killed that dog because he was too stupid or lazy to keep her inside, put up a fence, or even have her microchipped. Crocodile tears from a killer.

    • Dubayew

      Mr Young, my heart goes out to you for the loss of your dear friend Target.  She certainly was special.  It is very hard for me to understand how such incompetent people are put in such sesitive positions in government jobs.  Most likely that person still has their job.  I have dealt with a similar situation here in my small town in Kentucky.  Thank you for your service. 

    • Waggies

      target as so many  vets and  other of GOD’S angels sadly meeting an tragic end to life that should have been better after the heartache and tragedies they had encountered.  GOD bless the targets, rufus’ and  sasha’s in ths world, and our vets (i am proud to be one and a dog lover too; i currently only have one but she is my pride and joy and know many who feel the same.)  yes we need to do better by these and all animals that end up in shelters and stop spending billions on those who hate us and spend some of that money on saving the lives of those who need and willing to love us back (yes i mean the millions of dogs and other animals put down because they could not find their people or anybody to care. in a kill shelter so any innocent ones such as target die becuase of mistakes or it is past their holding point bfore they can be found and there are many that are not propery identfied when you call looking for your loved one, someone that do not know the difference between a beagle and a terrier.  microchipping is fine but not all facilities have scanners and not all chips are compatiable with all scanners.  GOD bless all who help the vets and the dogs get together and helping all of GOD’S angels. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3Y2FN4PMKVDBWIZHBEXY25PILU laverdad

      What a shame that our Military fight and die every day to protect our freedoms and we, here in the USA, cannot protect our best four legged friends and stop the insane practice of euthanizia to innocent pets because “there is no money for them”.  And then we  send billions to our enemies.  Sometimes I think our Governments, Federal and local, are certifiably stupid!  That poor betrayed Target fought for and won her freesom and escaped the imbeciles in Afghanistan–only to be killed by a heartless city worker and stupid, selfish practice. 

      • LuvUTarget

        It’s not euthanasia if it results in the death of a healthy animal. ”Euthanasia” is only for ending suffering when death is imminent.  That practice is humane and civilized.  Killing healthy animals is not “euthansia,” it is killing.  And there is no place for it in a civilized society.  My heart has broken a hundred times reading of this tragic loss of Target, all because of some careless and uncaring acts by those being paid by public dollars.  We as a people must do better and must demand better care of the animals entrusted to our “shelters.”

      • xaaymeansdog

        You “think they are”, I KNOW anything that has to do with government will be greedy, selfish and totally inhumane. I don’t want to start a conflict out of respect for Target but the tagline: “fighting to protect our freedom just isn’t true. That is a tagline to make war justifiable and give it a “pretty” label. Enough about this though. I wish Target would have lived but she was just one of millions to be murdured out of stupidity.

      • xaaymeansdog

        You “think they are”, I KNOW anything that has to do with government will be greedy, selfish and totally inhumane. I don’t want to start a conflict out of respect for Target but the tagline: “fighting to protect our freedom just isn’t true. That is a tagline to make war justifiable and give it a “pretty” label. Enough about this though. I wish Target would have lived but she was just one of millions to be murdured out of stupidity.

    • Cessie7

      Terry I’m so glad you were reunited with Target and can’t wait to read your book!!! See Puppy Rescue Mission and how they support OUR TROOPS in Afghanistan by raising the funds and working out the logistics to rescue their four legged battle buddies! Soldiers saving puppies…puppies saving Soldiers!!

      • Tiggygirl

        he WASN’T reunited with Target,, she was mistaken for another  dog and put to death before he was able to rescue her

        “Target was picked up by animal control. Young found her picture on the
        shelter’s website and paid the fee online to claim her. But when Young
        went to pick her up, he discovered that Target had been mistaken for
        another dog and euthanized. “I was an absolute wreck,” Young says.”

        • Babygirlisme02

          While I could see how it may have been misleading, Target was reunited with Sgt Terry Young. Target had gotten loose and had been missing for a day or two before Sgt. Young located where Target was at. Sgt. Young then paid to get Target out. When He went to pick Target up is when He had found out that She had been put to sleep on a terrible mistake. The other Dog that was supposed to be put to sleep got to live. So Target again was a HERO For that other poor Girl. This is TRULY a sad story. I am SO GLAD that a book is going to be made so that More and MORE people get to read/ hear of Target’s story. I will FOR SURE be buying this book. Target was also on Oprah for being a HERO. RIP Beautiful Girl. You will NEVER be forgotten. ^<3^