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. the moi

    THE EMPLOYEE NEEDS TO BE PUT IN FRONT OF A FIRING SQUAD-AFTER THEY ARE FIRED FROM THEIR JOB. THIS IS INEXCUSIBLE!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      Psycho much?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ouisie

    This is a perfect example of why you should always get your pets microchipped or at least have some identification on them. Dogs do get loose sometimes – it happens to the best of owners. I do feel that the employee who did not follow procedures should be fired. Those procedures are in place for a reason. And then it has to be a war hero at that! This should have never happened!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Susanna

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Target and her family. My question is this: how often do these accidents happen? We're hearing about this because this dog is a war hero. Would it be on CNN, or even the local news, if it had been just a regular mutt that got out of his yard? Whatever the procedures are that need to be followed, they clearly need to be much stricter...such as drugs under lock and key and multiple people signing off on any euthanizations.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. KILLER

    Hey, all you bully idiots. The family was neglligent. How else did it get loose? Why didn't they check with the pound if they were looking for it? I love dogs but I've had to pepper spray and even shoot dogs whose owners let them run loose. I've also had to deal with the carcasses of dogs hit by cars because the owners were lazy and/or irresponsible so shut your yaps.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sheila

    So, how often do the employees at this shelter just come to work, take any old dog out of a cage, and euthanize it? Seems like this employee had no trouble doing that – no paperwork to verify, no person to double-check the dog, nothing. Just "yep, I think I'll kill THAT one today." That doesn't sound like "working hard to reunite" at all, does it?

    November 16, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ward Ciac

    It is best to euthanize the employee.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  7. Willette

    I am so sick of incompetent people. No double checking, no confirmation of the correct dog, etc. This employee should be fired. This was a life, not a mixed up food order. If the dog was recently flown here from Afghanistan, she could have been confused when she got away from her owners. That happens sometimes. But killing her by "mistake" is crap and inexcusable.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      Yer another ignorant statement by someone who does not understand how an animal shelter operates. The euthanasia technician's job is to kill dogs and cats after the legal hold period is over. That's it. The person who answered the phone and talked to the owner had to responsibility of physically walking to the dog's kennel, writing in big red letters "HOLD – OWNER CLAIM" or something to that affect, to ensure that the euth. tech knew that the dog had been claimed and to not destroy it. This was not done and the euth. tech destroyed that dog just like he probably destroyed a hundred others that day. The dog had been in the shelter four days and legally the euth. tech was doing nothing wrong. The person who should be in trouble is the person who talked to the owners over the phone and did not follow through. But the shelter supervisors are scapegoating the guy that they know the public would hate – the guy who did the actual killing – even though the phone operator sealed the dogs fate by not doing her job thoroughly. And let's not forget the owners who did not claim their dog promptly. A shelter is not a safe place for a pet to linger. If they had been searching properly, they would have found their dog in that shelter on Friday, when she was first taken in – Saturday morning at the latest. The owners bear a huge part of the responsibility of their dog's death.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Penny

    It is sad that the center seems to have hired personnel that are incapable of performing their job. It sounds as if the individual is totally incompetent. Administrative Leave is inadequate punishment for disregard of significant work instructions. The individual should be immediately terminated. My primary concern relates to the potential of how many other animals have been inappropriately euthanized. An appropriate fine should be administrated to the center and then given to the owners. This might reiterate to the center the need to enforce work instructions.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • VECOE69

      I AGREE, KUDOS TO YOU !

      November 16, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. FoolKiller

    Perhaps the employee should be euthanized. Works for me...

    November 16, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. KILLER

    @ denise is an idiot: Sentences that ask a question are ended with a question mark. F***ing idiot!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. All Dogs Go To Heaven

    The employees should be euthanized. That dog was a hero. It accomplished more than those pitiful employees will ever hope to accomplish. After working in a shelter for awhile I would think your heart would turn to cement after killing so may dogs. They probably just figured it was another life that no one cared about. Absolutely disgusting....

    November 16, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      The problem began with an irresponsible owner.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Hey stupid (Denise)

    The gas guy opened my gate one time and didn't close it ... and the dog got loose.

    collasr comes off

    How about I microchip the back of your fuking head...

    November 16, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • killem dead

      People call me when they see an animal loose and expect me to kill it...that's why we're animal "control".

      Most callers are old azzholes who I would prefer giving them the shot

      November 16, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      So who's the stupid one for not having invisible fence. Look in the mirror.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. trinh

    How sad I am !!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Wow, that about sums up the stupidity of Arizona.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. McVee

    I feel bad for the employee.

    You don't work at a pet shelter because you hate animals. You do it because you love them. An accidental euthanasia of an animal that was supposed to be kept alive AND had a home? I'd feel worse. I don't think anything, firing me, suspending me, anything, could be any worse than the torment I'd be putting myself through.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
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