November 15th, 2010
06:44 PM ET

Afghanistan dog hero accidentally euthanized

A dog rescued from Afghanistan after she alerted soldiers to a suicide bomber was accidentally euthanized at an Arizona shelter on Monday.

A Pinal County Animal Care and Control employee has been placed on administrative leave for failing to follow procedures and euthanizing the wrong dog.

The dog, Target,  was recently brought over from Afghanistan by a soldier who had returned from his tour of duty.  Target was featured by CNN for heroism after saving dozens of soldiers from a suicide bomber on February 11.

"She got her name because the Afghans we lived with were constantly trying to off her.  She's been shot in the leg. ... The Afghans actually ran over her," Sgt. Christopher Duke said, who helped care for Target in Afghanistan and has adopted her packmate Rufus.  "There's no killing this dog for sure.  She's pretty much been through it all, " he said upon their reunion in July in Georgia.

Target's new owner, Army Sgt. Terry Young whose life was saved by the stray, helped bring the 2-ish-year-old from Afghanistan to her new home in Arizona.  She disappeared from Young's home on Friday.  Facebook postings requested help in finding her.

Target saved U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan

Animal Care and Control received a call about a stray female shepherd-mix dog in the San Tan Valley area on Friday.  An animal control officer picked up the dog and brought her to the shelter where the dog stayed over the weekend.  The dog was not microchipped or licensed with the county,  shelter officials said.

On Monday morning, the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen and euthanized it.  The dog was not scheduled for euthanasia.

“I am heartsick over this.  I had to personally deliver the news to the dog’s owner, and he and his family are understandably distraught,” said Animal Care and Control Director Ruth Stalter.  “We work hard get to strays reunited with their owners.  When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow.  Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.”

In an e-mail, Young told  CNN affiliate KPHO, "I'm an absolute wreck today, and it's everything in my power to hold it together for me and my family. My 4-year-old son just can't understand what is going on with Target and keeps asking me to get the poison out of her and bring her home. They don't want her to go be with God yet."

“An investigation is under way, and we will cooperate fully.  We will also thoroughly review procedures to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” Stalter said.  “This is unacceptable, and no family should be deprived of their companion because procedures were not followed.”

Target was pregnant when she helped thwart the suicide bomber by attacking him.  She had her litter of puppies in Afghanistan.  Target's puppies have since been brought to the United States.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
soundoff (990 Responses)
  1. PARROT

    THE DOG WAS BROWN SKINNED.....THAT WAS THE REASON...THE NAZI-ZONA LAW IS FOR BROWN SKINNED PEOPLE AND ANIMALS

    November 15, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guest

    the answer is to microchip humans and kill ( oops ...i mean ...euthenize ) them !!!!!!

    November 15, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nijode

    No license, no collar? Dog gone!

    November 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynne

      Not funny! Disgusting!

      November 16, 2010 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. David

    I am so angry ! I can't understand why the owner did not have a way to keep Target in his yard to protect her from harm. I can not believe the jerk who put this sweet dog to death did not follow procedure. Follow procedure makes it sounds the employee did something small or silly. The employee sent an innocent dog to its death because they were too lazy to do their job correctly. No question, the employee should be fired. Target was a survivor and a hero. No one can't tell me that dogs don't know what love and devotion are.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DanteX

    Let me get this right.

    Man brings Dog home.

    Man does NOT LICENSE AND MICRO-CHIP or SECURE the Dog.

    Dog gets LOOSE AND RUNS AWAY AND IS PICKED-UP BY ANIMAL CONTROL – A PUBLIC-SAFETY FUNCTION.

    Dog is ACCIDENTLY euthanized at the Animal Shelter.

    And people are NOW wanting to EXECUTE the person who ACCIDENTLY euthanized the Dog because some IRRESPONSIBLE pet-owner FAILED an animal that they were SPPOSED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR.

    This represnts ALL that is so very WRONG with the mind-set of people in this Nation.

    The Dog was euthanized by ACCIDENT – GET OVER IT.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      You left out the part where the owner leaves the dog at the shelter for 3 days before coming to get it. I just saw on the news that the owner knew the dog was at the shelter on SATURDAY and figured it "was in good hands until Monday." Seriously?? I know dogs sometimes get out, but I would NEVER deliberately leave my dog at a shelter for one minute longer than absolutely necessary.

      November 16, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      then accidentally euthanize your own child, acceptable to you? and you get just "get over it"? I think not.

      November 16, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Veggo

    No matter who is to blame, this is very sad. However, hopefully it can bring awareness to the subject. Animals are euthanized everyday due to overcrowding at shelters. Please adopt a dog instead of buying from breeders and puppy mills.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      Or at least buy from reputable, small-scale breeders who demonstrate love and compassion for dogs.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sad

    Outrageous!! This breaks my heart.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe Blow

    Bet the employee was hispanic or black.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • byruby

      you should be neutered for this remark...

      November 15, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brett

    This is sick! They should euthanize the employee that did this to the poor dog.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Susan

    I am absolutely stunned by the negative words here. Please don't lose sight that a wonderful dog that serviced this country lost her life. This is a heart wrenching story but, unless I know all of the facts, I refuse to place blame on anyone.

    Maybe the owner made a mistake. If so, does that one mistake mean that he is to blame for the dog being put to death? That would be ridiculous. The owner went above and beyond to bring the dog home. So don't jump to conclusions on the course of events.

    Maybe the shelter made a mistake. I suppose it is always possible that the shelter worker is simply cruel. But not likely. Terrible, horrible, horrific, mistake. But maybe at the end of the day it was just that. Maybe the worker is heart broken at what happened. And mabye the shelter does need to increase its controls. Without knowing the full truth, I won't point my finger.

    I have several animals and do my best to keep them up to date with shots and tags. But if I fall behind for a bit does that make me completely irresponsible? No. That makes me human.

    Compassion for all parties involved, people. Or is writing a witty remark more important to people? So bring on the sarcastic replies that I don't think any of you would write if you thought there was a chance you could be identified.

    My thoughts go out to the dog's family.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      it's a dog. It has no First Amendment rights, it can't learn to read, it will never vote in an election. What it will do is steal your food when you aren't looking, sit around, lick its own genitalia, and bark at things that aren't actually there.

      If you want to make a big deal about something that actually matters, donate money to a charity that will help Haiti produce clean drinking water. They have an outbreak of Cholera that is killing actual people. Who gives a darn about a dog?

      November 16, 2010 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kate

    They could have used it to executed someone on death row.I feel bad for the family their little boy does not understand why his dog is not coming home.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. byruby

    How ironic that Target came all the way to the United States and found the "terrorist" here...I hope this brings attention to the plight of innocent animals in this country and prompts owners to tag and chip their precious pets. So sorry for your loss Sgt. Young. So so sorry.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Christine Marie

    How can an "accidental euthanasia" possibly happen? This is not the first time a story like this has been reported, either. Shelters need stricter and more obvious guidelines. There should be log sheets for animals just like for people in hospitals. There is no reason an animal should ever be taken out by one employee and put down. What about multiple checks...or large signs for the ones that DO get put down. Better yet, how about a search for a no-kill shelter to see if they have room for another before getting rid of it.

    I can think of a million reasons not to put down a dog. They can't think of one?

    PETA will have a field day with this one.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kris

    There are some f'ed up people posting here. You know sometimes I think myself arrogant to bellieve I am smarter than most people. Then I read things people post on message boards and I no longer feel arrogant about my intelligence.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wimmers

    I am getting tags tomorrow! Nobody killing my boy.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
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