Target in Memoriam: A Canine Hero

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.

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