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. Michael Anton Lylyk

    that's a pretty bad accident

    November 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anevay

      Poor doggy, No good deed goes unpunished.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • trailblazer

      fire that dog murderer

      November 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dog Rescue Network...

      Tragic.... but hero or not...... why did the other dog deserve to die? Why is this pup more special? I and many thousands more deal with rescue pups everyday.... NONE of them deserve to die.... whether "war hero" or cast away family pet>>>>Please America/Canada open your eyes..... we MUST STOP KILLING.... pups in shelters.... why should a pup DIE because his "master" divorced ETC ETC ETC? Stop the Murder of ALL healthy pups!

      November 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • evoc

      Imagine how that employee feels ::>[

      November 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • 20yrveteran

      I wonder if the other pups are near Pinal County animal care center. Odd how they call it "CARE" center

      November 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig Olshlager

      Just guessing...was the employee Michael Vick's brother?

      November 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morbo

      The euthanizer should be shipped to Afghanistan immediately for some on the job training in bomb disposal.

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

    Well that's horrible. Always nice to see professionalism in its highest form.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kim

    Nice going dog murderer. Apparently this person is real egar to destroy than let live

    November 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim

    While this tech made a HUGE mistake, this is ultimately the fault of dog breeders who, despite the alarming over-population of dogs, continue to breed more and more animals that NO ONE will ever care for.

    And I've seen dogs in action in Iraq – lifesavers. Plain and simple.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tad Pole

      So you are saying it is the .. fault.. of.. umm.. the dog's breeders.. in.. umm Afghanistan? Sersiously?

      November 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • S Kyle

      Shut up.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • arthurr

      you are a smug dogturd

      November 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I agree, shut up... you should format your hard drive and try doing something else with your time.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • carolinago

      I agree with you, even if the other posters are quick to jump down your throat. There are millions of uncared for animals yet people would rather have a cute yippy yappy creature than a solid faithful one. Even the cute yippy yappies oftentimes get pushed away because their owners don't take the time to train them and would rather just be rid of them.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jasmine

      You are right on. No dogs should be put down for lack of homes. The breeding needs to stop, period.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bald Shaun

      "shut up." "smug dogturd." Wow, what intelligent and logical rebuttals. Really? Are you guys 11?

      November 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim with a brain

      JIM – Likewise for humans.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigboxes

      The OP is getting crap because he didn't read the article. Instead he made it his soapbox for his cause. This dog was not the result of a puppy mill. It was a result of lots of stray animals in a poor country torn apart by war. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Think of your poor mind.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roe

      I understand where you are coming from but thats not what this story is about. It's about an amazing dog that was killed due to a careless employee. Most strays can't be euthanized for at least 7 days to give the owners a chance to claim them. I can't imagine the pain the family feels. The sad part is this dog saved lives and yet his was taken without a thought. What has the world become when a dog values life more than we do.

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

      What does this stupid act of an idiot Tech have to do with the fault of dog breeders. You put your foot in your mouth and I bet you blame society for all of criminals deeds. Think before you open your mouth.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • StupidPeopleAnnoyMe

      While I respect your opinion, your statement regarding dog breeders is simply Stupid. This story is not about the fact that there are irresponsible breeders, which I happen to concur with. The story is about the fact that an incompetent individual made a mistake and killed a dog that was not "scheduled for euthanasia".
      On the surface the story is bad enough, but for someone that has "seen dogs in action in Iraq – lifesavers. Plain and simple", you seem to have missed the point of this article. This isn't about irresponsible dog breeders, it's about a soldier who lost a Friend, a friend that saved friends. Since you have "seen dogs in action in Iraq" I can assume that you noticed that there aren’t a lot of individuals there with dogs concerns foremost on their thought.
      Maybe I went a little overboard with this, but next time dont use a random article as a sounding board to vent your frustration.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lori

      How many purebred animals do you see in shelters? Not that many. 95% of the animals in shelters are mixed breed animals. Go see for yourself if you don't want to believe me. Reputable breeders raise purebred dogs and cats and they do sell them with spay/neuter contracts. Not everyone wants a mutt. Some people would like to get a family companion who's size, type and temperament is predictable. The over population problem is from irresponsible / lazy pet owners who think that it would be great if Fluffy or Fido had one litter so their kids can witness the miracle of birth. Or they just didn't get around to getting their pet fixed. I am a owner of two mix breed dogs and they are great. My last dog was a show quality Standard Poodle which was used for bird hunting and sold to me with a spay contract because I am not a breeder. Breeders are not the culprit of overflowing shelters. Irresponsible pet owners are.

      November 16, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ian

    This is a tragic accident without a doubt, that dog saved numerous lives from the sound of it. To have its life ended prematurely because some idiot didn't follow procedure is quite disheartening.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The Philadelphia SPCA did the same thing to a dog that saved its family from a house fire. As the home was gutted, the dog was being boarded at the SPCA.
      The night before the mayor was to give the dog an award, the employees destroyed the dog, in order to make the management look bad.
      They've not gotten another donation since from me and they soon attempted to extort the city of Philadelphia into banning and destroying all pit bulls or they would break their animal control contract with the city.
      The city started their own animal shelter and hired their own animal control.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lori

      I agree. It is tragic. I would blame the whole system though. For all we know, this guy may be taking the rap for something that he is not entirely responsible for. Hardly ever is the whole truth told.

      November 16, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. km

    This is sad but it was avoidable. All the dog needed was a license or a microchip or at the very least, a ID tag made at petsmart.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      Although many cities and towns require pet dogs to be licensed, there are times that when picked up strays do not have collars or tags. Microchipping or tattoeing are ways to permanently mark your pet. Microchipping is relatively inexpensive and many shelters offer the service.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Paul

      Unfortunately collars don't always stay on and some dogs can slip out of them so tags can be useless. A microchip would have been the best. It also shows how tragedy can happen when procedures aren't followed. I had my dog euthanized when it was very sick. I requested cremation and chose a container for the return of the ashes. The tech that handled the euthanasia placed the dogs body with common disposal bodies (basically landfill) because she failed to read the paperwork. The biggest insult was the vet wasn't even apologetic nor did I receive an apology from the tech. The vet made it out to be no big deal, it was a mistake, but to me it was a big deal. To me the tech should have been fired. Mistake that like lead to tradegies like this poor dog being euthanized for no reason.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DMD

      I have to agree with KM, a simple Collar and ID tag (bought at Petsmart) would have saved this dogs life. I am suprised the owner didn't have a collar on the dog that said he was war hero !!!

      I found a wandering dog just the other day with a simple collar and ID tag, I called the owner directly and the dog was reunited with his owner in 30 min. The same would have happened if that solider would have bought that beautiful dog a collar and ID Tag. What a tragedy !!!! PLEASE EVERYONE WHO HAS A PET GET A MICROCHIP, BUT AT THE MINIMUM BE RESPONSIBLE AND GET A COLLAR AND ID TAG, that is if you Really Love your Pet !! Common Sense !!!!

      November 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. todd

    if the worker was truly sorry he would give some Quid pro quo closure by euthanizind himself!

    November 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. todd

    this is why breeders must be shut down in all 50 states. we should not need to euthanize animals, especially when there are som many more people in the world that deserve it more and keep adding to the total every day!

    November 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Well...

      We tried to adopt a dog from a shelter a couple of years ago and because we disclosed that we found a wonderful home for a pet when we moved a few years earlier, they wouldn't let us. The whole all or nothing mentality of the shelter personnel resulted in us going to...*gasp*...a breeder. Turns out he's a wonderful little guy and we're all very happy. Maybe you and your cronies need to be a little more open-minded about who you turn down when trying to find homes for animals. I have a pretty hard time not automatically assuming anyone working at one of those places is certifiably insane now.

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

      What an ignorant thing to say. Have you tried adopting an animal lately? I have. In fact, I have an adopted rescue pit (who, by the way, is the best and most lovable dog on the face of the planet) as well as a rescue cat. Both animals were adopted a couple of years ago in New England, where I previously lived. I recently tried to adopt another puppy at my new home in Northern Virginia and was turned down. Kind of ridiculous, considering I own over 20 acres of land and a four bedroom house for them to roam around in... with no children... and it's just me and my new husband... and our income is definitely well above average... But nonetheless, we were turned down. The reason, we were told, is because we made a long move with the animals. So essentially we were DENIED an adoption for NOT giving up our animals when we moved. Perhaps there would be less animals in need of a good home if the shelters would stop denying them one.

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

      I just rescued a liter of 5 kittens from a man who's father died. The father was feeding stray mama on the porch. My friend took the mama for herself and one of the male kittens for her mom and dad. It took me four months to find homes for the other four mix breed kittens, but they did get homes. My friend has a un-altered male that once again got mama pregnant. Wow, two more kittens. Now shes saying that that the one female kitten would make nice kittens with the male that she took for her parents. Are you kidding me? Not only are there no homes for all of these kittens but its also a really close breeding. That is where the population problem comes from. Not reputable breeders of purebred animals 10% percent of the population of dogs and cats in America are purebred. The rest are mutts. Don't blame reputable breeders for this problem. Now backyard breeders and puppy mills are a different story all together

      November 16, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    Let me get this straight? The stray was picked up on Friday and then euthanized the following Monday only a couple days later? Is that normal practice or is that something specific to Arizona? That doesn't seem like an adequate amount of time to find the owner or adopt the dog out.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sherry

      That's why the article said that the dog wasn't scheduled to be euthanized and that the employee did not follow procedures. This has nothing to do with AZ. Read.

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


    November 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zoey

    As a dog lover I cannot imagine this happening to my pet! How tragic!!! No excuses for such stupidity and this wonderful pet was such a HERO!! This story made me cry 🙁

    November 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandy

      I know me too. I love all dogs, but loved this story. What a big mistake!

      November 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Seems to me that the animal control worker should be euthanized.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay French

      I TOTALLY agree, someone should make a proper mistake and euthanize that FOOL!!!!!

      November 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Nope, make that SOB enlist and go to Afghanistan. Assign that individual to the unit saved by the dog and make sure everyone know who he is.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gary

    Figured, Arizona... must have mistaken the dog for a illegal...

    November 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dman


      November 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leigh

      How incredibly poignant of you. Did you think that up all by yourself? Have you actually been to AZ? Do you really have any clue about what you're talking about? That's a rhetorical question by the've made it pretty obvious that you don't.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. infonomics

    Idiocracy – Part II

    November 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tina

    My heart aches for this family,... but they should have had him microchipped. would have saved a lot of heartache.. although the employee may have made this gross error anyway.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      They go through hell and highwater to bring these dog heroes from Afghanistan. I am certain the dog would have been chipped & tagged as soon as possible. I know this story and all of the men would have been blown to bits while sleeping if it wasn't for the bravery of these dogs. The callous behavior of this employee goes way beyond a simple mistake. "Administrative leave" NO, he should be fired and all animal shelters should be given his name as reckless and a danger to the animals in their care. The shelter's euthanization procedures should be investigated. There is NO EXCUSE and yes, it happens frequently. In my town, they euthanized a cat before the owner had signed the paper releasing her for adoption. Please please support your No-Kill Shelters !

      November 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Lisa, I firmly believe in justice. That shelter employee should be convinced to sign up for the Army and deploy to Afghanistan.
      THAT would explain far better to him what the magnitude of that failure to follow simple instructions was. Especially as the genius would probably blab to a buddy why he had to sign up...

      November 15, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
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