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. Bridget

    Yet another example of the failure of our shelter system. The fact is they euthanize this quickly all the time.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      The law gives you three days to claim a stray. That is plenty of time. This dog was there for over 3 days.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • mp

      BRod the law must differ state to state honey, possibly even by county.. I know that here, in SC they give 7 days... Should I explain ?

      November 16, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cat

    BOISE, 50 % owners BLAME ??????!!!!! NOTE: "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.”
    ONE reason THERE ARE CLEAR CUT procedures!!!!!!!" When my dogs got loose on a Sat. I called animal control 3 times , even left my #, to see if they had p/u TWO BIG BLACK with " red dobbie like stockings." They told me NO. After searching for 6 hours, right before they closed I went OVER to check for MYSELF. LO and BEHOLD they had MY TWO BIG BLACK DOGS with red stockings caught that VERY morning. When I questioned why they did not know they had my dogs ,they ensued to tell me the saga it took to catch them. WHAT???? Animal control people don't give a S*** if you are reunited with your pets or NOT!!!! NEVER TRUST them if they say they don't have your pet always check for yourself!!!!!! BTW there is a controversy of tumors/cancers and chipping and when you have more then ONE BIG dog, dog collars can pose a danger when they play. One of my dogs got caught up in the other dog's collar. I almost had a vet call because of the dog collar. BOTTOM-LINE PEOPLE NEED to do their job CORRECTLY!!!!!! It's not ROCKET SCIENCE!!!

    <<<<>>>>>

    November 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rh

    Euthanization of a healthy animal in general is a crime.

    Not spaying or neutering your pets is a crime.

    Puppy mills are a crime.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • julim

      Right on!!! There shouldn't be a need for a shelter to euthanize any pet!

      November 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rh

    PS I know people who knowingly let their dog loose "oops the kids let the dog out". They (the parents) should be euthanized not the dog.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cat

    cat

    BOISE, 50 % owners BLAME ??????!!!!! NOTE: "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.”
    ONE reason THERE ARE CLEAR CUT procedures!!!!!!!" When my dogs got loose on a Sat. I called animal control 3 times , even left my #, to see if they had p/u TWO BIG BLACK with " red dobbie like stockings." They told me NO. After searching for 6 hours, right before they closed I went OVER to check for MYSELF. LO and BEHOLD they had MY TWO BIG BLACK DOGS with red stockings caught that VERY morning. When I questioned why they did not know they had my dogs ,they ensued to tell me the saga it took to catch them. WHAT???? Animal control people don't give a S*** if you are reunited with your pets or NOT!!!! NEVER TRUST them if they say they don't have your pet always check for yourself!!!!!! BTW there is a controversy of tumors/cancers and chipping and when you have more then ONE BIG dog, dog collars can pose a danger when they play. One of my dogs got caught up in the other dog's collar. I almost had a vet call because of the dog collar. BOTTOM-LINE PEOPLE NEED to do their job CORRECTLY!!!!!! It's not ROCKET SCIENCE!!!

    <<<>>>>

    November 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Cat, CHILL OUT.

      November 17, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Maria

    That employee should be fired! I had never heard of anything so ridiculous. He should have followed proper procedures and if he had, this would never have happened.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richard in Texas

    This has nothing to do with politics, peta or any of the other garbage being spewed here. It all could have been avoided if the owner had just tagged the dog.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Albert E

      This is the best post on this blog. Richard is correct, the DOG got out, the DOG caused his fate. The owner has to accept 50% of this situation but, probably won't because we as Americans don't accept responsibility for anything, just ask the Democraps, they will tell you this. Thats why they do what they want without our concent because they know better than we do on what we want and need. All this hoopla on a dog and the tragedy. ITS JUST A CANINE, NOT A HUMAN PEOPLE GET YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT. AND WE WONDER WHATS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY?????

      November 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. T1Brit

    The most dreadful story I have heard in a long time

    WHY WAS THE DOG NOT CHIPPED AND REGISTERED ????

    November 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Albert E

      Great statement, what about all the human carnage happening every day in this poophole. Some sad sack dog story compares to one of the greatest tragedies in history, this WAR.

      November 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. militarymom

    Reality?!...(God I hope not!)

    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.

    To the many other mean spirited individuals who commented: It is truly scary to see how many of you are out there! It is as if you are just looking for something to b**** about and someone to argue with. You are what is wrong with this country....and this is what our soldiers are risking their lives and dying for?! Take a step back and look at yourselves! Let all the others make sure you never vote for a mean-spirited individual or party because they will be the undoing of this great country.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lorrie

    One factor to keep in mind is that the typical City run animal shelter is NOT open on Sunday. I site my city's animal shelter hours as example. Sat Noon-4 and closed Sunday and Monday. To add to that issue is that many times when a dog or cat escapes, their collar and tag are torn off (like when on a chain they will pull it off if too loose). This is what typically causes legislation that animals are to be held for 3 'open to the public' days but longer if there is identification on the animal. The article leads us to believe this to be true at this shelter and indicating that the worker pulled the wrong dog. Very sad and I believe the shelter is fully at fault for this sickening situation.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AK in LA

    This is so sad it makes me cry... Target, we have failed you... Thank you for what the amazing thing that you have done. I hope your spirit is still with us.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. militarymom

    You all need to do something constructive with your anger instead of bashing and nit picking people. The blaming and the "shoulds" are pointless now aren't they? Humility is a quality that is becoming extinct in our society.

    Condolences to all parties involved in this very sad story.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BRod

    The Pinal County Animal Care and Control is open on Saturdays – just fyi to all you people who think some of us are being unfair by saying that the dog's owners should have claimed their dog sooner. When your dog goes missing, it is (or should be) common sense to visit (not just call) local shelters.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cat

    BRod

    If you could do it so much better, then why don't you apply for his job? The guy was euthanizing a stray whose hold time was over. He was not told that this animal was claimed.>>>>
    On the contrary , perhaps one needs to REREAD what happened. Strays ARE SUPPOSED to be held a certain amount of time so owners can reclaim their pets.This dog was KILLED over a weekend. This employee did NOT follow PROCEDURES. That's why PROCEDURES are placed. It would have bought this poor animal more time. If an employee can't follow THAT PROCEDURE what makes ONE think that they would follow the rest??SUCH as............ SEARCHING for a CHIP!!!!!
    Sorry people need to do their jobs CORRECTLY in the first place!!!!!!

    November 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cat

    For everyone who THINKS a CHIP would have saved this dog's life. Who's to say they would have SCANNED him ? Because it's procedure? WAIT, they did not follow procedure. Here's a thought, how about starting out with following the BASIC procedure they have in place for a STRAY DOG. Is that TOO MUCH TO ASK???

    November 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
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