Soldiers' hero dogs arrive in U.S.

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Chris Chiasson, who is stationed at the same base where soldiers from Bravo 2/121 were when a suicide bomber attempted to blow up their barracks, helped get dogs Rufus and Target home to the United States. He is pictured here with some of the dogs on the base, including Rufus.

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com The dogs who helped stop a suicide bomber at a base in Afghanistan, saving the lives of countless Georgia Army National Guard soldiers, have arrived in the United States. On the night of Feb. 11, 2010, a Taliban insurgent named Mohammad Omar, wearing the uniform of the Afghan Border Police, entered the base.
Several stray dogs hung around the base, and a few had been "adopted" by the soldiers there. When Omar got near the base, three dogs -- Rufus, Sasha and Target -- sensed something was wrong. The three dogs attacked and raised the alarm. Omar detonated his bomb before he could get inside the base. Omar and dog Sasha died in the bombing. Five soldiers were wounded, but none received life threatening injuries. After the bombing, several members of Bravo 2/121, the National Guard unit that is based at Newnan's Jackson-Pless Armory, wanted to find a way to bring the two surviving dogs, and Sasha and Target's puppies, back to the U.S. But the unit returned to Georgia in late March, unable to bring the dogs home. The soldiers that replaced them at the Afghanistan base continued to care for and grow fond of the dogs. One soldier, Chris Chiasson, became particularly fond of the dogs. Stateside, his girlfriend, Anna Canaan, started the Puppy Rescue Mission Facebook page to help raise money to bring the pups home. Also getting involved were Robert's Cause, a nonprofit animal advocacy group, and Nowzad Dogs. Nowzad Dogs is a U.K.-based group that rescues stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rufus arrived in New York, in Manhattan, on Tuesday, according to "The New York Post." He will be heading to Franklin, Ga., where he will live with Sgt. Chris Duke and his wife. Duke, a member of Bravo 2/121, was wounded by shrapnel in the bomb attack. "There isn't a doubt in my mind" that the dogs "saved my life," Duke told the Post. After receiving treatment for his wounds, Duke returned to the base and helped nurse Rufus back to health. Target will live in Phoenix with the Army medic who nursed her back to health after the bombing, according to The Post. - Correction: In the story above it was stated Rufus would be living with Sgt. Chris Duke in Augusta. Duke actually lives in Franklin.

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