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. Reality

    hmmm... let me think... an American Soldier coming home to raise his child or a dead dog...

    come on, who cares? kids are dying of diarrhea in Haiti and you bleeding heart liberals are shedding tears over a flea bitten runaway dog. Boo hoo. get over it.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Light of Truth

      Typical heartless evil Republican response. What part of "saving the lives of soldiers" did you not comprehend? This dog is a hero and should have been afforded more respect!

      November 16, 2010 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      The dog wasn't a hero, it was a dog. Heartless? You kidding me? This story has a happy ending, a father is still alive to raise his son. The father IS the hero, the man who was willing to sacrifice his life for his country, knowing he might never come home to see his son, ready to do whatever it took in the hopes that the world might some day be more safe for his son to live in. Evil? Where did I say anything "evil?" I asked you about the plight of actual human beings, people so genetically similar to you as to be almost no different at all, people that, as we sit here and bicker on a message board, are defecating themselves to death for lack of clean drinking water. REPUBLICAN? When was the last time a REPUBLICAN cared about a poor person? YOU want to give a DOG a ticker tape parade. I'll tell you something about evil: ignorance is evil. You fit the textbook definition of ignorant, you go ahead and fill in the blanks here: ___ ___ ____!

      November 16, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      Reality, you're a real piece of Republican crap! I'm a proud "bleeding heart Liberal" with five nephews and nieces in the
      U.S Army. They, too, feel a great deal of compassion for their fellow soldier who served gallantly and brought home his
      heroic dog, which was neither "flea bitten" nor "runaway". He intended to raise a LIVE companion for his family to love.
      Your "hard-ass" Republican "Reality' comments can only add to that grieving famiy's pain. And, by the way, what have
      you done lately for the suffering victims of the Haitian earthquake? Probably damn little! Get your ass or your money
      down there and help! Moron!

      November 16, 2010 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
    • militarymom

      You seem to be a very cold, angry, unfeeling human being. Why does your "liberals" comment not surprise me...? What does this subject have to do with liberals/conservatives? Also, you obviously have not served our country as well as this dog did or you would appreciate the lives that were saved because of this dogs actions. Regardless of whether or not this dog "knew" what she did was heroic, her actions saved lives and doesn't deserve mean spirited people verbally trashing her. As your words trash her, they also trash the lives that were saved because of her actions. How very unpatriotic of you.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. D

    Saddest thing I've read in awhile poor dog. Rip Target.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. Light of Truth

    Leave it to a screwed up Republican lead state to be killing defenseless animals that aren't even sick. My community is not rich by any means but even they do not kill the animals unless they are sick with contagious diseases.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
    • LeavingCali

      Light of Truth, this really has nothing to do with politics.

      Also, you can't project everything from your experiences or town onto others. It makes you sound uneducated. Life exists outside your little box.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Maddox

    This is hilarious! Republican education at its best. Reminds you exactly what Arizona is all about.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
    • LeavingCali

      Your comment makes no sense. Do you care to elaborate?

      November 16, 2010 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cinderella

    She is a war heroine who gave her life so that we can continue to live in freedom. R.I.P., we honour your sacrifice for the nation.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
    • WOW

      annnnnd you're an idiot. go pray to your imaginary friends for the soul of this mutt.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. cranston

    they probably thought the dog was mexican

    November 16, 2010 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. john smith

    they let the dog get away. their fault.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    Uh. Why is the 4 year old child already brainswashed into believing in religion? So absurd.

    So, so, so absurd.

    Brainwashing kids is bad, m'kay.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      Welcome to America, you must be new here.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
    • LeavingCali

      way to negate the premise of the story, Joe... Sounds like you have an anti-religion chip on your shoulder. It's not your kid...don't worry about it.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. leeflea51

    Grrrrr!!! To angry about this except to growl. God!!! What bumbling fools.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. Holly

    "Accidents" like this, just don't happen. Who is this "animal shelter worker,' and, what is his background? This dog was young and beautiful, and had just arrived at the shelter. It was no accident.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mikelyn Martin

    While it's tragic what happened, where's the dog's collar and nametag with something as simple as a name and phone number? That too, could have prevented this unnecessary action.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. DogLover

    reality i wasn't addressing the fathers not returning i was addressing what happned to the dog. get over it!

    fuzzynutz and colin, i realize i would be arrested, i'm not stupid like you. i was making a point.

    it's morons like the three of you that make me prefer to be around animals. at least they don't kill each other for nothing and they don't try to support or just accept idiots that do. they all respect the lives of other beings. that's more than i can say for intellectual simpletons and emotional delinquents like yourselves.

    but what do i know, it's just a dog?

    November 16, 2010 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lynne

    I've read the cold and callous remarks a lot of people have made about this very tragic accident. Some of you may have heard of Mahatma Gandhi. Some of you may even know a little bit about him. He said it best...

    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
    - Gandhi (1869-1948)

    And people ask what is wrong with our society???

    November 16, 2010 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Robert S

    "What the hell is wrong with people?" seems to come up over and over. It's a good question actually. What the hell is so wrong with people that there are dozens of calls for the employee who made a terrible mistake to be murdered. I hope CNN is reporting the few who have gone further and make actually threats to the police. Enjoy your 8 by 10 for posting death threats and in the case of William, an apparent bomb threat. Way to show the worst of humanity there folks.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • rose

      sooo agree with you. What the hell is wrong with people. Those types of comments make me embarrassed and ashamed for mankind. Yeesh.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. DogLover

    reality i wasn't addressing the fathers not returning i was addressing what happned to the dog. get over it!

    fuzzynutz and colin, i realize i would be arrested, i'm not stupid like you. i was making a point.

    it's morons like the three of you that make me prefer to be around animals. at least they don't kill each other for nothing and they don't try to support or just accept idiots that do. they all respect the lives of other beings. that's more than i can say for intellectual simpletons and emotional delinquents like yourselves.

    but what do i know, it's just a dog?

    oh, don't worry, i'll wait for you to get a dictionary so you can figure out the big words before expecting a response from any of you.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      "i wish i knew where this moron lived so i could bring a four legged friend with me to see how he likes the "accident" the dog will have with him. it would be "oh i'm sorry , i accidently had him rip the wrong guys leg off" put me on administrative leave and everything will be ok."

      you said what you said, now you're splitting hairs about it. dogs kill other dogs and animals all the time. i watched one of my dogs kill a squirrel the other day for no reason. they are dogs, they react on instinct. when they go feral they hunt in packs and prey on the weak. based on what you had to say, it seems to me that the only difference between a dog and a human is how many legs they walk on, but what do I know? apparently, they respect the lives of other beings and I'm just an emotionally delinquent, moronic, intellectual simpleton. who knew?!

      November 16, 2010 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      PS: you'll be proud of me: I didn't even have to use my spell checker for my response!

      November 16, 2010 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
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