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. Steve

    This person needs to be euthanized.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jacob H

    I sense a Trespass to Chattel lawsuit coming right up!

    November 15, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hurf durf

    Yeah, it's too bad that the dog got killed for no reason, but it's just a dog. Let's just be happy that this creature helped save some human lives. Stop pretending that animals are humans. Now I don't condone any sort of animal cruelty, and it's indeed sad that this dog was killed due to the combination of incompetent owners/shelter, but in the end, it's a dog, and a non-story.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jesus Christ

    Why are they euthanizing animals in the first place? It's simply outrageous. If there are more pets then people want then it seems that a nationwide (make that international) program for spaying and neutering cats and dogs is long overdue. There just isn't any good reason to have animal killing taking place.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mr. Toad

    Left to their own devices, Arizona would probably euthanize a lot of things, dogs, cats, illegals, a few legals, Donovan McNabb, the list could go on and on.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. UNCLE AMERICA

    What a terrible shame and waste of a smart and beautiful animal. The blame goes to all concerned and connected to this sweet baby. The tragic state of the system, the shelter, the kill happy employee who didn't follow procedure and ..... the heart-broken owners who allowed their pet to slip away without a collar or identification. A soldier is never without his or her "dog tags"....!!!!

    November 15, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dan

    Oh. Arizona.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rod

    Unless an animal is proved dangerous, or there are health considerations, it should not be killed, period. By the same token, more people need to be responsible with their animals. A chip is THE most loving gift you can give your pet.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Falcon2012

    They should euthanize the "war heroes" as well.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ruth Stalteis a POS

    I would want to beat Control Director Ruth Stalte to near death status

    November 16, 2010 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. Nick

    OMG, how can you not be careful which freaking dog you are killing!!!!!

    November 16, 2010 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. Brittany

    Wow people!!! This comment section is turning into a huge debate over the accidental killing of a dog. Yes it was a family pet that was loved, yes it should have been microchipped, but did any of you think that maybe the employee was new and didn't know which dog was to be euthanised?? Come on, we all make mistakes...if we didn't society wouldn't be vey normal. Just stop debating over stupid little comments that some one else made!!

    November 16, 2010 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kiapet

    I think the point of this sad article has gone on the wayside. Regardless of whether this poor dog had a microhip and license was not a factor protocol was not followed. Very scary to think that after just a weekend any lost pet could be euthanized because of mindless human error. This is an extremely sad story and my heart goes out to this family.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. Pat

    Of all the stupid, irresponisble things to do. That poor dog didn't deserve to be put down, and the person who did it should be fired and never be allowed to work in an animal shelter ever again!

    Oh and, hurf durf, how would you like it if somebody said, "A litle old lady was accidentally euthanized in the hospital. But let's be happy for her; she had a good and full life. So let's stop pretending that elderly people really are people. In the end, it's just a little old lady and therefore its' a nonstory."

    November 16, 2010 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Ruth Stalteis a POS

      That kunt works for the gov.and promotes killing the animal strays

      November 16, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. davetharave

    Stupid is as stupid does. This moron doesn't belong working near any animals.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
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