The tragic story of Target, a canine war hero from Afghanistan, was described by Care2 blogger Sharon Seltzer. A stray dog befriended by American soldiers while stationed in Afghanistan, Target was allowed to follow Sgt. Terry Young home to Arizona after saving up to 50 men on the military base from a suicide bomber. He became a beloved family pet.
Tragedy struck when Target was wrongfully euthanized by a local shelter when she escaped her yard and was picked up as a stray this past November.
Most Heroic Dog of 2010
There is an uplifting part to this story, though. USA Today runs an annual contest to name an animal hero. Readers submitted entries deemed worthy and five were picked for reader votes.
It was announced Wednesday that Target won with 58% of the vote. She has been honored, posthumously, as Paw Print Post’s Most Heroic Dog of 2010.
But the award itself isn’t necessarily the big news here. Two fellow nominees, Ricochet the surfing dog and Sparkles the fire safety dog, got together with their humans to help Sgt. Young and his family in a quest to build a no-kill shelter called Target’s Bunker – honoring her memory.
Ricochet has a large following on Facebook and his mom, Judy Fridono, has generously set up a page for donations to Target’s Bunker until the Youngs are able to get their non-profit status established. In conjunction with Dayna Hilton – Sparkles’ mom – the two started the project dubbed Turning Votes into Voices.
There is no doubt Target is a true hero. But the everyday heroes among us are many.
They include Fridono and Hilton for recognizing a higher purpose in the life and memory of Target. By being willing to forgo any accolades for themselves and their dog’s causes, they display the humble attitude of a real hero.
And Sgt. Young turned a horrific set of circumstances into a cause for others. Young and his family are bringing the concept of No-Kill further into the public consciousness. For that, they are heroes.
Animals who find their way into the often unnavigationable maze of the animal welfare system in this country don’t have enough advocates to ease their way. To the many animal welfare folk who work on the front lines every day by fostering, volunteering and transporting–among other efforts–you are the unsung heroes, but heroes nonetheless.
Sgt. Young and his family are now among your comrades.
Photo of Target from targetsbunker.org used with permission of Sgt. Terry Young