19 November 2010

'Target' the war hero dog from Afghanistan euthanized in error

A heroic stray dog that befriended soldiers in Afghanistan and saved their lives by chasing off a suicide bomber, was euthanized by mistake last Monday at an Arizona shelter.

Target, a shepherd-mix, was adopted and brought to Arizona by Sergeant Terry Young, one of the soldiers she helped save.

The pooch was picked up last Friday after she wandered off from Young’s home southeast of Phoenix and taken to a local shelter after a neighbor found the lost dog.

A terrible series of errors led to Target being euthanized the following Monday.

Young found out that Target was at a local shelter, but did not go to pick her up as he thought the shelter was closed for the weekend.

On Monday a worker at the shelter confused Target for another dog and mistakenly had her euthanized.

When Young showed up at the shelter to pick her up he was told by the director of the shelter that there had been a mistake and Target had been put down.

"I just can't believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog," Young said.

Young and his family, which includes three small children, are reportedly devastated.

Last February, Target and two other dogs, Sasha and Rufus, thwarted a suicide bomber in Afghanistan by barking and attacking the bomber, alerting and saving up to 50 soldiers in a nearby barrack. The bomber self-detonated, killing Sasha and severely injuring Target and Rufus. Five soldiers were injured, but none were killed thanks to being alerted by the dogs barking.

Target and Rufus were nursed back to health and adopted by soldiers at the base, who treated them like royalty. The dogs gained national attention after appearing on “Oprah.”

The shelter has promised to investigate the incident and has placed the employee who made the heart breaking mistake on administrative leave.

Unfortunately, Target was not microchipped, tagged or licensed with the county.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City where she loves to check out all the vegan eateries. When she's not writing for TDIV, Robin enjoys taking dance lessons, reading, practicing yoga, hanging out with her cat Maggie, baking vegan treats, and volunteering at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit: Screen capture MSNBC.com


  1. I'm stunned. Things like this shouldn't happen... to war heroes, family dogs, or strays.

  2. Is the director of the shelter, who obvisously doesn't have decent controls in place, going to be fired? Or just the one employee placed on leave?
    Fat good an investigation will do after the fact....

  3. This is so sad! Just devastating! This sweet beautiful dog saved soldiers lives. The technician must be held accountable. She will be dearly missed!

  4. This just in...Target's estate will be suing her former owner for failing to get her licensed, failing to get her an ID tag and failing to place a microchip. Sorry Sgt. Young, but you are at least 50% responsible for what happened.

  5. I'm also sad that one has pointed fingers at the owner(s). If they had only tagged and licensed this dog, it would have been sent home long before this happened!!!

    Come on, a dog with this much intelligence and responsibility in a foreign country wasn't tied to a post but was allowed to roam freely. So guess what happens...he runs away.

  6. Same thing happened to me in Phila. Someone stole one of my piibulls, she was missing for 3 weeks I went to the spca EVERYDAY after work & one day they called me at work. i asked them if she had a scar on her left front leg they told me to hold on then told me yes, I said call her name Lady & she should start whining & doing the happy dance They came back & said this is your dog. I went ther after work to get her, we went back to see her & she went NUTS!!! I said let's get her home where she belongs. They told me the person that does the paper work left already & I would have to come back in the morning. I was there before the doors opened & the first in when they went to get her they said she was put down at 11:30pm & I left there at 8:30pm. i asked for the body so I could bury her next to her mom & grandmom & they told me that they don't release the bodies. So i know how this Family is feeling!! I'm sorry for thier lose!!

  7. Dont you think that the owners of the dog were just as much to blame. Dogs are like babies, they need to be looked after. These people failed their dog first. And then it just got worse.

  8. I think that the employee that euthanized the dog should be fired, and the owner of the shelter should pay the Young family an undisclosed amount of money for pain and suffering and hope that the federal government doesn't come down on them for killing one of our great war hero's. We had a dog in Afghanistan too, and it was so sad the day she died out there on mission.

  9. Oh my god, unbelievable. I saw them on Oprah. This soldier must be absolutely beside himself. Why the dog wasn't chipped or tagged, I can't understand, but regardless, how utterly devastating.

  10. To the family I am so sad for your loss of your beautiful friend. To the shelter, SHAME ON YOU! YOU KNEW SOMEONE HAD CALLED FOR HER. Same to the other respondent who lost her dear friend. I can't imagine your grief, there needs to be more oversight and if a shelter is still open there should be someone there to process the release of a family member, NO MATTER WHAT.

  11. Tragic to have this accident happen. Tragic also that the dog wasn't tagged, licensed, or chipped. No one wants to pay for those important things; no one wants to pay the fine or shelter bill when an animal gets picked up for running loose; no one wants to pay for 24 hour professional animal control shelters and animal control professionals, so most shelters these days rely on volunteers - not professionals - who make mistakes. As a Afghanistan veteran, I feel for this trooper and her family. But those that are demanding blood for this accident should sip a hot cup of grow-the-hell-up before relieving her of her part in the tragedy. God Bless America and God Bless our Troops.