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. EmeraldCity

    Placed on administrative leave? How about fired outright?

    Way to go, you @ssh0le!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. just sick

    This is a horrible mistake for certain, but I have to wonder why the dog was not licensed, or chipped, or wearing an ID tag? And why was it running loose? And WHY when they realized it was lost did the owners not call the pound or better yet go down there to look for her??? She was there all weekend! Everybody knows that's what you do – posting to Facebook is a dumb way to "search" for your missing dog. Sounds to me like she wasn't as loved as the article wants to imply.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Well, I'll tell you why. .... You can only reach them between 8AM-5PM MONDAY thru FRIDAY. Even though their website states: " If you lose a pet, call Animal Care and Control and report it. If we have impounded your dog or cat, YOU CAN GET IT BACK RIGHT AWAY." They will have to add an addendum: UNLESS WE KILL IT FIRST. This family loved Target and wanted to reward her with a good life for a change. They put a plea out on Facebook as soon as possible, but unfortunately, killing hours on Monday came before they could get through. It is cruel of you to blame this distraught family.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      No, it was cruel of the stupid family to not be responsible dog owners.

      November 16, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Trey

      Yup. No collar, no license, no chip, no id tag = irresponsible dog ownership. I'm sure they are sad but come on. They are partially to blame.

      November 16, 2010 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
    • just sick

      Lisa, you left out the SATURDAY from 10-2 hours. If you lose a pet, you call them immediately, and you keep calling them regularly until your pet is found. The story on the news tonight reported that the dog actually went missing on Veteran's day (Thursday). If you love your dog, you don't wait days to contact Animal Control to see if they picked it up. You don't wait until they post a picture on their website. You get in your car and drive down to the shelter and you look at the animals for yourself to see if your dog is there. That dog could have been safely back home perhaps Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. I don't mean to be cruel, but their actions, or more importantly, iinactions, played a significant part in this poor dog's demise. The employee screwed up, no doubt about it, but it seems to me that multiple people screwed up and the dog paid for it.

      November 16, 2010 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. heeler

    In the words of Bob Barker.... please spay and neuter your pets. The rest of us will try and adopt the results of those who don't....because tese stories SUCK!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. F84U

    Yes, the look in this dog's eyes is soulful and special. So WHY didn't the "technician" who worked with animals, not see that this was a well fed and cared for? This technician must be heartless and sloppy. Sloppy not just at her(his) job, but in life, in moral judgment, in daily choices. Killing at a job, killing any life form is not a normal act. It takes judgment, stamina, regard, and yes, care that all procedures are followed. This person had none of the qualities which are called for in carrying out a very difficult task. Much like the murderers at concentration camps, this worker who killed this animal has obviously become so heartless, soulless, and uncaring so as to not follow basic procedures involved with taking away the spark of life from one of god's creatures. It sickens me. This person is not a person anymore, but a monster, a monster who has crossed the line in ethical disregard for god, for life, and for the responsibility that comes with having a responsible job. This person should never, ever be given a job which requires responsibility and care. This person should never, ever be given another chance because this sort of mistake is absolutely unforgivable. This person should go away and dig ditches in concrete for the remainder of his or her days.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • ergil

      millions of healthy and wonderful dogs are killed each year. The person who did this was an idiot. But, we must all realize that the person's job is to kill healthy animals that our society doesn't care about. They don't kill the dogs for fun, but they kill them because each day more come through the door and there is no room for them all. Not enough people are adopting the dogs and too many people are allowing their dogs to breed and way too many people are supporting puppy mills and backyard breeders. If out society were a responsible one then there would not be millions of dogs killed each year needlessly. I have been in the euthanasia room and have watched technicians cry as they "did their job". I have seen people get jobs at shelter because they love animals only to have to take part in the euthanasia and in time the people have become seemingly without emotion and driven to drink to deal with their job.

      So yes, the person who did this was an idiot. But, the people who allow the euthanasia to continue as standard practice are the bigger idiots.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Namerequired

      The problem is not with the cruelty and heartlessness of this employee. Stupid, yes, but I'll bet this person works at the shelter because of his(her) love for animals, Euthanizing is just one of the many responsibilities. A hard one at that. Dogs and cats are euthanized because of overcrowding. Idiots who bring in litter after litter of puppies or kittens have no idea what it means to be a responsible pet owner. When I volunteered at a Humane Society, I remember one family who brought in multiple litters over the years I was there. They would laugh and say, "Brought another batch for you!" as if the animals were COOKIES! I would take them and think of the pile of dead animals 20 feet away about to be put into the incinerator. I should have brought that family in to see the reality of the situation and keep their kids from sleeping well at night.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mark

    What an a..hole. Fire him immediatley or put him to sleep!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lee

    Sounds like to me, this is a usual procedure...you have an employee that accidentally euthanized an animal???....how dumb do you have to be to do this? Really? The poor animals always have to pay for human's ignorance....

    November 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ergil

    This is horrible. I hope this poor dog did not die on vain. Millions are euthanized each year. In Miami alone over 20,000 were killed last year. 20,000. I hope this opens people's eyes to the horrid way we treat the animals we domesticated to be our companions.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sally on Cape Cod

    Sad, very sad. A simple solution...stop killing the animals. Spade and neuter and adopt, I think the way we treat our animals isCRIMINAL!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Thomas

      Its a reflection on how we treat each other. And you are absolutely right.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ashley

    That is horribble. Was that the dog that was on Oprah?

    November 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • EmeraldCity

      Yes. If I went there and found my dog dead, I think I'd kill that person with my bare hands.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mikael

    people this is arizona the pool of dna is very shallow , what did you expect. their brains are fried!!!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pamela

    Talk about "A Dogs Purpose", really makes one wonder why dogs have become such a big part of our daily life.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Slyfist

    Idiots!!! What kind of moron or procedures would kill an animal with out make sure without 100% trying to either find the owner or find a new owner...? The employee should be fired and his animals (if he owns one) given to someone else (no need killing another innocent for this idiots mistake). This animal shelter needs to be closed down and if the public officials are unwilling to do it, then they need to remove the policy where animals are put down.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RUFFNUTT

    the employee probably thought the dog crossed the boarder illegaly..

    altho is seems kinda fishy. might have been the work of the cia. the dog might have been a mole and saved those soldiers to infiltrate the us base and gain tactical knowledge.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnny Anonymous

    Proof that people in arizona are idiots.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JoBoo

    I like how dogs are treated by them dirtbags in Afghanistan. Not. You'd think in a wartorn country such as that they'd like their dogs. Nope they just keep on worshiping their child-molesting moon god.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
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