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. Anna

    What a shameful shameful thing to do. Why was this employee in such a hurry to euthanize an animal that had just arrived? Pathetic

    November 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bnl

    This is not that unusual at shelters all over the country. There are workers who look forward to "killing" day and some of them take every opportunity they can to kill animals. Do you think this is the first time it has happened? It is just the first time the dog/cat was famous enough that the owner could get media attention. WAKE UP PEOPLE. 5 MILLION cats and dogs die every year in this country – that is about 6000 each day. Our animal "shelters" do not provide protection – they are killing houses.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • katsrule

      Yes, you are right: 5 MILLION ANIMALS are euthanased every year, BUT it is because of irresponsible breeders, puppy mills, and irresponsible owners that got a puppy because he was "cute" and didn't realize he was going to grow up and take responsibility to raise. NOT BECAUSE people working at shelters enjoy killing puppies.

      If you care so much about shelter animals, then why don't you go to a shelter and rescue one? Or perhaps you are too busy breeding your dog or "rescuing" from a petstore (aka buying impulsively and supporting a cruel industry).

      People need to wake up and be responsible about pet ownership, not blame overcrowded and overworked shelter employees, specially when this dog had no form of ID and not even licensed (as per this CNN article).

      November 16, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. shinola

    no doubt this shelter euthanized according to policy, then learned that this was the famous afghanistan dog and out of embarrassment, and let the employee take the fall. and the derision of the idiots here who can't spell "eager."

    November 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      OH, OH, Look out, the spelling police are on patrol...

      November 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ClueForSale

      You bashed their spelling, but let your own grammar fail. Let’s dissect YOUR post, shall we?

      – No capitalization for "no" to start your sentence.
      – Afghanistan is a proper noun and requires capitalization.
      – The final sentence (where you call others idiots) starts with "and" (not capitalized either).
      – The use of "derision" does not seem to fit the context of the last sentence (or you just really goofed up what you were trying to say. In that case, leave the big words in your “Word of the day” calendar.);

      "derision" per http://www.dictionary.com means:
      –noun
      1. ridicule; mockery: The inept performance elicited derision from the audience.
      2. an object of ridicule.

      In other words, STFU and mind your own house before you critique the cleanliness of another's.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      You used the word derision correctly.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tommy

    Man...can the State of Arizona do anything right? I've lived in this State for 10 year and it's beyond embarrassing. This is completely unacceptable and this idiot needs to be fired.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lisa

    Very, very sad story. My heart goes out to the family. 😦

    November 15, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      You mean the family that failed to keep the dog secured on their property or in their house? The family who didn't bother to make sure the dog was properly licensed? That family?

      November 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Yes john, we get your stupid point. You must be a real joy to be around on a daily basis. And by the way, are you wearing your collar and tags on the same planet that you inhabit with all of the other living creatures that we treat like crap??

      November 15, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • LauraJ

      Go Jane!

      November 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Heather

    The story states that the dog has been in the states since JULY. That is plenty of enough time to get a dog registered, microchipped and/or a collar with a tag. It is not so much the neglect of the shelter as it is the neglect of the pet owner.

    We took in a 3 month old pup, before the week was out he had been vetted, had a collar complete with rabies tag and name tag on him (hint: even without a name tag, as long as the rabies tag is on there, you can contact a vet's office give them the registration number and they will tell you who the owner of the dog is) But it appears that this "hero" didn't even warrent "dog tags" from his owner. I would say if we were able to accomplish that in less than a week, he could at least ticked one of those tasks off in 4 months.

    OH and don't even start with financial hardships. The Military doesn't "ship" these dogs to the states for free. It cost a family here in NC 2500 to have a dog sent over from Afgan, that was a companion to the soilders there. So if the money was raised to get the dog here, then they should have had the money to purchase a 5 dollar collar with tag, and while they were at it invest in a 10 dollar rabies vaccine!

    November 15, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann Enigma

      I have 3 dogs I care about like children, and one did manage to escape once without its collar on. Did it occur to you that the dog might have slipped out of her collar, or maybe she had just had a bath and "escaped" at precisely the wrong moment. Yes dog owners need to be responsible, yes all my dogs are chipped, no not everyone realizes they're chipped because some readers aren't compatible with some chips. Show some compassion! {climbing off soapbox}

      All that said, I hope they fire the person who murdered that dog!

      November 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vic

      Finally,
      Someone who can see the big picture. While, the shelter did make a huge mistake, the biggest responsibility lies on the previous owners for: 1) not maintining proper control of the pet. (How did the dog escape, was there an open gate or a leash was not used? etc.. and 2) Why didn't the owner have the dog micro-chipped. Being in the military and I having a dog, I know it is a requirement for pet owners to register pets.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Heather, Is that the best you can do? Nothing but complain about a collar and tags? Get real. And by the way, do you think that the dog possibly may have had a collar when it got loose?? The story doesn't say that. And we would all like to know if you and all of the other unsypathetic animal haters have your micro chips intalled in your body since you inhabit the same planet as these living creatures that us humans treat like crap??

      November 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      I do have compassion, and sadly that is the reason I support the animal shelters, the spay/neuter clinics, the rescue groups that all assist in the welfare of the unwanted animals. It is sad that we have irresponsible owners. And this "heroine" will not cause the end of euthanisa, just as the death of Ferdinand the winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby, did not stop the US and Mexico for slaughtering unwanted horses for meat.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anika

      Dear stuck up close minded bigot,
      did it ever occur to you the dog might have slipped out right after a bath? Or when she didn't have her collar on. You did realize that they stated the dog slipped out and the owners immediately started looking for her right? Or where you too busy formulating your witty remark about how someone going through the pain of losing a family member is to blame. Micro chips are inhumane and most responsible pet owners choose to forgo that option simply because of the procedure. So maybe before you "see the bigger picture" you actually take a look at it before spouting off something to make yourself seem "smart".

      November 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      The dog was not microchipped or licensed with the county, shelter officials said.

      In otherwords JANE, not TAGGED. And are you out there in the field every day taking in all the shelter animals that you can get your hands on? I seriously doubt it. And I am not an animal hater. But Jane, where do you want all these unwanted pets to go? Surely in your front yard...No you would probably be the first one to call Animal control. Because it is not really YOUR problem. It is easier to sit back and pass judgement.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • chokedup

      Heather you are so right. 100%

      November 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      I am not going to argue with all you bleeding hearts. It is what it is, and yes the man killed off the wrong dog...however another dog was supposed to die in her place, so I am assuming that to you that other dogs life had no value. You want to help, get involved in local rescue groups. They would greatly appreciate your support. Better yet, donate 20 dollars in dog food to a rescue, or give them 20 to go in and save another animal from a shelter. Don't sit here and spout hatred toward someone. Do something.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      @Anika Please explain to me how putting the chip is inhumane?

      November 15, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Good lord. Does everyone have to be on the attack? Nobody among us (I would guess) has the facts of this story. Yes, the dog ended up in a shelter. Yes, the dog had no microchip or collar on. But beyond that, we don't know what happened, how the dog was loose, why it was not microchipped yet.

      Having just moved to a military base overseas with our dog, I know that it takes an inordinate amount of time, effort, veterinary coordination, paperwork, and due process to bring a dog into another country, INCLUDING the U.S. (friends of mine brought a dog back from Africa). The microchip has to be inserted before two rabies vaccinations, after which a blood test is taken to determine that the dog doesn't have rabies. Then there is a waiting period, more vaccinations, and reams of paperwork and approval. The animal will be in quarantine in the new country until the process is complete.

      I HIGHLY DOUBT that this man, who brough the Afghan dog over to be a family dog, and probably went through hell and high water and PLENTY OF COORDINATION, PAPERWORK, VET VISITS, etc. to do so, was so callous as to just shrug off her disappearance. Moreover, the U.S. would not allow the dog in if his ducks were not in a row.

      So just stand down, everyone, and quit passing judgement.

      RIP, Target. To the family, I'm so sorry for your loss.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Proud Bleeding Heart

      Heather,
      We "bleeding hearts" DO in fact do a LOT for shelter pets. You keep hammering the same point, like we're all sad for this poor dog (which we are), but not adopting or helping shelter pets otherwise.

      NOT TRUE.

      It IS possible to care about the life of this individual dog, and the individual dogs/cats/ferrets/rabbits/birds/horses, etc. we rescue, AND to recognize the larger issue. Some people's brains are just more developed than yours, I guess.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  7. Umbra

    Are you guys for real? Does CNN run out of news? What a bs...

    November 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ranchmama

      Why don't you just shut up and go someplace else?? No one wants to hear your heartless remarks.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Hey Umbra...sod off. Nobody cares what you think.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dover

    Why wasn't the dog chipped or licensed? Part of this terrible story is the blame of the owners. Discipline the animal shelter people and slap the fcking owner.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. elizabeth

    How do you mistakinly kill a dog?! Unreal. Should be an ex-employee.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. nm

    I donated a little money to the rescue of this animal. I am heartbroken. The organization Puppy Rescue Mission is a great organization and does so much for the soldiers and helping these animals. I cannot imagine the poor family. So sad.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tony

    This is absolutely appalling. We all have one chance at this life and for someone to take it away from anything be it animal or human............. well all I can say is that it's heartbreaking.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. William

    Why hasn't this incompetent shelter employee been executed yet? That's the question we should be asking.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      I really don't understand this "kill the employee" battle cry that a lot seem to be doing on here. Let's hold the irresponsible owner to blame. The dog went missing on Friday, could he not have called the shelter on Friday, or at least on Saturday? Could the owner not have properly taken care of his animal by having the basics of ownership taken care of? A collar with a simple tag would not have cost the owner much...less than 10 bucks actually. So due to the lack of care by Army Sgt. Young, his dog is dead, and HE can tell his children that it was HIS fault that the dog didn't have proper identification.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      You have some good points Heather. In fact you've convinced me. The dog's incompetent moron owner should also be executed. (And in case you're wondering... I am completely serious.)

      November 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Heather, let's hold your heartless uncareing better than tho self responsible and guilty as charged......

      November 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Let's see William, an ANIMAL dies, and you think a HUMAN BEING should pay with his life, you definitely have some mental issues to deal with.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    What an idiot. But what's interesting to me is that 99% of the people here calling the person a murderer are murderers themselves by eating met every day.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I don't eat "met."

      November 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      What's even more interesting is that 99.9% of people who believe that eating meat is "murder" are too clueless and ignorant to realize that human teeth and the human digestive tract are both clearly adapted by millions of years of evolution to eat... MEAT. And 99.8% of these imbeciles are also too stupid to recognize the difference between eating dogs and eating cows, chickens, fish, etc.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veggo

      Mike, I completely agree. You cannot be so outraged by this story and still eat meat from factory farms. Whether you think humans should eat meat or not, the animals you eat should not be tortured and confined as they are.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      @Veggo – I couldn't agree more. If I had my way there would be MUCH stricter and more humane standards governing the meat processing industry, and violators would be severely punished without exception. I just can't tolerate the lunacy of most "animal rights" extremists.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • a slozomby

      plants are living things too. so if meat is murder so is asparagus.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Curt

      the people who slauter /kill/poisn animals are fcuked up and it s sad but if you dont eat meat the demand for animals being killed for any reason wont go down the 5M+ animals that die a year is a result of people not getting animals spaid/ neutered so were to blame thank you

      November 15, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CBGM

    They should euthanize the employee by accident

    November 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cydonic

    Whoever killed this dog is a monster. Why would you euthanize ANY animal unless it is to save one already dying from pain?

    November 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      ummm, because it's their job?

      November 16, 2010 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
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