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. David

    People need to stop being in such a damn hurry in life. SLOW DOWN and think about what you are doing in your dailly tasks. It may be a menial task that you have for a job but it's someone else's life that you are affecting. Have some patience for Christ sake! This county employee that euthanized a HERO that saved American lives obviously has no care or compassion for his fellow man. I hope he/she sincerely realizes the uneccesary mistake that was made and changes their life to promote positive change from it.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tanyafh

    How incredibly sad:(

    November 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. barbara morgan

    As a dog lover, my heart goes out to the owners. Yes,they should have had the dog chipped with collar and tags. And, yes my dogs are chipped and tagged. But, the ignorance in our society is so abundant. Someone needs fired and hopefully the society management might revisit their training for future employees and themselves. Bless Target's pups and may they have good homes with owners who love them.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. S.Colbert

    I might just shoot him and blame the horrors of war for changing me.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Just Sayin...

    it's a dog, guys... Let's not get carried away here.

    The important thing is one of our boys returned home to his family safe and in one piece. There's no replacing ANY life, let me make that clear, but at least there's a 4 year old boy out there who still has a father. Out over the weekend, that dog's lucky it didn't get picked off by a coyote or hit by a truck. Unfortunate, sad, but come on... Look at what Mike Vick is doing as I type this.

    Keep it in perspective.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin

    Typical Americans – don't know the whole story? Write it yourself. Jump to conclusions. Blame anyone and everyone. Idiots.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joseph D

    yes, fir him / her. If they don't the head should be fired. This dog saved lives. Sad. Very sad.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. oblahmaha

    and how often does this happen and we dont hear about it cuz the dog isnt famous

    November 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    Wow...absolutely tragic story.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike in San Antonio

    Fault all around; the owner for not registering his dog, license, rabies tag, collar, microchip, fence, etc. & the employee for not following procedures.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cynthia

    Here's a thought how about we stop euthanizing animals except for in medical cases where it is in the best interest for the animal? Maybe that would solve the problem of accidentally murdering a 2 year old dog who is a war hero? And for all of you daring to blame the owners, they stated Target slipped out of the house, maybe she didn't have her tags on when she got out? Don't blame someone going through mental hell for some idiots mistake.This whole thing just makes me so angry and I hope the idiot on paid administrative leave feels the guilt of this action for the rest of their life.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • HerpDerp

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

      In other words, the owner never bothered to have her registered at all, so her collar did not "slip off" as people say. Also, shelters have to euthanize. Because of people not spaying or neutering their pets, there are 4 million cats and 2-3 million dogs that wander the US streets without a home EACH YEAR. What do you do with all of them? Shelters are often underfunded because people like the majority on this comment section just whine and do nothing. There isn't enough manpower or money for shelters to constantly add space and take in strays. Some unfortunately have to die to make room for more and more and more. And the cycle continues because all people in the US like to do is complain and never get off their butts to do something about it. I get great reward from going to the shelter just once every other week to help out as a pre-vet student. I feel sorrow every time I come and see that a kitty I played with last week is no longer there the next week, and it's not because it was adopted...It saddens me, but if anyone has any other ideas to make room for more strays besides the shelter having to put down animals, I'm sure the ASPCA would be glad to know. But no one has offered a solution yet, so things will keep being the way they are, animals will keep birthing and dying, and PETA sympathizers will still whine and offer no solution.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. HPMstr

    Could you pls post this employees name and address. I have an award I'd like to personally deliver.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      I have an award for him too. Mine will be about the size of a shoebox and wrapped in plain brown paper with no return address. Would you mind delivering it for me at the same time you deliver your award? Appreciate it :)

      November 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tankfixer

    I agree, fired..

    November 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay In Florida

    now accidentally euthanize the shop owner

    November 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Corzich

    Let's keep some perspective here people. It's a shame this dog died, but not every bad thing that happens in this country is a CRIME. Sometimes it's just sad, with no real villain for your mob mentality to vent on. It seems, sadly, the owners were at least as responsible as the shelter for this dogs' fate.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
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