Target, a hero stray that saved dozens of soldiers from a suicide attack in Afghanistan, was accidentally killed in a Casa Grande, Arizona animal shelter. Here’s yet another argument for no-kill shelters. New procedures, yes, but also new values are needed for taking responsibility for our nation’s homeless dogs, including  spay and neuter programs and robust pet adoption solutions. RIP Target. In remembrance of Target’s heroic contribution to our soldiers, let’s give all our pets the gift of a microchip this month.

Read here for a full editorial on Target’s death.

Target, above right, was mistakenly euthanized at an Arizona pound. Both Target and Rufus saves dozens of soldiers from a suicide bomb in February.

AP – FLORENCE, Ariz. — A dog named Target that lived through explosions in war-torn Afghanistan couldn’t survive a brief stay at an Arizona animal shelter.

An unidentified employee at the Pinal County facility was placed on administrative leave after euthanizing the female shepherd mix by mistake, county Animal Care and Control officials said Monday.

“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” Ruth Stalter, the county animal control director, said in a statement. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.”

Sgt. Terry Young, the owner of the dog, told The Arizona Republic, “I just can’t believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog.”

Target frightened a suicide bomber inside a military base and potentially saved dozens of soldiers’ lives, Young said.

Target as a puppy rescued in Afghanistan. He later returned the favor by saving dozens of soldiers from a suicide bomber.

He said the dog was treated like royalty from then on at the base at Dand Patan, near the Pakistan border. Young brought Target to the San Tan Valley area southeast of Phoenix in August, when he returned home from his tour of duty.

The dog escaped from the family’s back yard Friday. Young put out online notices and contacted TV stations that did reports on the missing hero dog.

A neighbor found Target wandering later Friday, put her in his back yard and called the pound. The dog did not have a microchip or tag.

On Friday night, Young found Target’s picture on a website used by Pinal County’s dog catchers to help owners track lost pets. Young figured the shelter was closed for the night and weekend.

Tell the Marines shelter dogs can be heroes too.

He showed up at the shelter in Casa Grande to claim his dog on Monday, only to find out she was dead. County officials say the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen Monday morning and euthanized it. The Republic said Young and his family will get Target’s cremated remains.

Article on microchipping a pet – a tiny yet potentially lifesaving device.

Videos series: Daddy’s Home! Dogs Greeting Returning Soldiers

Read about stray dogs rescued by soldiers and see a trailer from the TV documentary No Dog Left Behind

Operation Baghdad Pups is an SPCA International program to allow soldiers to bring non-military dogs and cats home. See the organization’s video:




  1. The USA Government does not want our money or good lives for their people or families;They want “Power” We the people that spit back because they cannot have our soul so they try to kill our spirit through our pets.And we as Americans need to bond together, stick together and stay together and pray that unity will be sufficient for the time being until there is a bigger & better way to over come this chaos of mutilation of loving animals from the smaller people that fear their own shadows and those that are followers.
    I sat in a shelter for several months and just watched the goings on,the workers were very angry people when confronted about the lack of care given to these pets.I spoke to a young girl about a cat not eating or drinking;she came right into my face and “SCREAMED” she’s alive isn’t she? I spoke with the head of the shelter at that time,only problem is when one leaves three more worse or just as bad with hate and anger.But needless to say I took this cat home had my vet examine her he said she has no liver…….and has cancer before she was sent home with me all her teeth were pulled,then I found she had been used a number of times in iams labs for experiments,Zoey lived exactly six weeks,but it was the freedom she wanted & loved. I was willing to go to any length to get her to her new home above. Thanks for allowing me to share this story.

    • What on earth are you rambling on about? So you had one bad experience at a shelter, now you’re going to be anti-government because of it? Every shelter I’ve ever been to has cared deeply about the animals and the quality of life while in said shelter. Maybe the staff was rude to you because you were annoying? It is also not the shelter’s fault that the cat you adopted had all those problems. When you adopt an animal, you’re purchasing a used item that may or may not have had a seedy past. Get over yourself.

  2. On Friday, November 19, I heard Katie Couric report that the outcome had been tragic for Target, a stray Afghan dog that had been adopted by a member of the US military serving in Afghanistan who had brought her to the United States. In February, Target’s actions, along with those of two other dogs, had saved the lives of several of our troops by frightening off a suicide bomber. Named for the fact that she had been marked for death by the Taliban, Target did meet her death, but not at the hands of the Taliban, rather at those of the people with whom she ought to have been safe, whether or not she had been, as she was, a war heroine. You see, Target, unused to being confined, had wandered from the Arizona home of Sgt. Terry Young, and, bearing no license, had been picked up by Pinal County Animal Control and promptly killed. The “animal control” people let her live not more than 72 hours before killing her.

    Sgt. Young, along with all those who have ever served, knows well the horrid truth of being a soldier. It is to do the ugly job that everyone wants done, but few, very few, are willing to do him or herself. No one who has not been under fire or approached by a figure wearing pounds of explosives can have or has any right to have an opinion as to what that ugly job entails or what it is like to do any part of it. To Sgt. Young and the other men whose lives were saved by her actions last February, Target was no ordinary dog. He and his compatriots are alive and unharmed because Target, who could have run off, stood her ground and repaid the kindness that had been shown her by defending her protectors.

    To Sgt. Young’s three children, Target was the agent sent from heaven to come between their father and eternity, the agent whose loyalty allowed their father to be conveyed ”gentle safe”, as Shakespeare might have said, back home to them.

    Target, Sgt. Young and his family were owed better, much better, than they got. I’ve heard it said that we will get the kind of society we deserve. When I note the glib narcissism that describes the age in which we live, I shudder at the thought of that observation’s being true. No matter the enormity of the act, time and time again intentional or grossly negligent conduct is charged off as “a mistake”, “a lapse in judgment”, or “an error”. A perfunctory and plainly staged “apology” is offered and the matter declared “closed”, the offender wanting to “move on” or “to get on with his or her life”.

    When children set children on fire (Michael Brewer, Deerfield Beach, FL, October 2009), when people stage bear baiting, dog and cock fighting events, when sharks are finned to make soup, we are well on our way to getting the kind of society we deserve…the kind that kills the likes of Target.

    I once read on a fortune cookie: “If you don’t change direction, you’re likely to get where you’re headed”.

    • To the government that refuses us as human beings to love,hold and harbor our loving pets should be excuted as they agree upon that for our pets.”The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” By:Gandhi When we eat the flesh & blood of any animal we become that of what we eat: an old saying;we are what we eat(?)

  3. I can stop crying for such a cruel and non – sense story. My heart is broken for Target and I wondering why it is still possible to euthanize innocent dogs in U.S. Please try to make american people more sensitive about this problem and ask governent to stop this barbaric practice.

    • We the people are weakened by promises of a bigger and better world when ever there is a new president we still get the same results,only ten times worse..The American industry is soooooo robotic that the up heaval of ground soil riddled with spores have over turned the humane afficiency to non existance.People in the USA are walking mummies thinking the world is changing for the better….SURPRISE—SURPRISE….. Here are two more reasons why we the Americans think things will get better while we work our butts off working towards these many promised goals and die before we get to see any of them happen because there’s always more promises in place of lost hope.Those that have given up have their heads up butt & hide from reality hoping one day to see the promises made to those that no longer live to see or care.The only few of us Americans that do care participate 24/7 in searching for these homeless animals and “I” do take them in give them a good home until placed else where,shelters are euthanizing all animals as they come in the door.The doctors are telling every one of their patients they are allergic to their pets/not true: allergies are”Not” life or death threatening,as I mentioned prior spores are the major cause of allergies;ask the Government. Thanks………..

      •  You are insane. You can’t even organize your thoughts properly, what exactly is your point that you are trying to make?
        “The American industry is soooooo robotic that the up heaval of ground
        soil riddled with spores have over turned the humane afficiency to non
        existance.” What the heck is that even supposed to mean? Are you making an analogy? It would help if it was clearer.
        You are also insane for thinking that pet allergies are nonexistent, or whatever you’re trying to say. They do exist and I’m not sure about life-threatening (I’m sure it’s possible) but allergies can be very uncomfortable to live with.

        p.s. Stop thanking people for reading your useless drivel; unfortunately everyone on the internet is subject to your horrendous comments whether they wanted to read them or not.