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. Sharon

    What the hell is wrong with people??? How do you make a "mistake" like that?? It's just so senseless.

    Hey, I got an idea.....euthanize the worker/@sshole who made this so called "mistake"....what a sad story.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Translation

    That's basically the same treatment a lot of veterans get here in the US.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cat Lover

    I agree that the dog should have had a collar/chip and all that, I am wondering how long dogs usually stay in a shelter before someone euthanises them. From what the article said, this dog was there just over the weekend.

    My personal opinion is that if that is the usual time frame for that shelter, then there was nothing that could have been done. But if the dog was there an unusually short amount of time, then there is a problem. Hero dog or not, this appears to boil down to shelter policy and whether it was followed.

    As far as the employee goes, I believe that he or she should NOT be "accidentally euthanised" because that would make me no better than him or her and is a bit extreme. Besides, It was not done in malice (note the term 'accident') and it's hard enough to put down an animal as it is let alone have people after your life for what, appears to me, is an accident.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chokedup

    If this owner was so invested he/she should have had the dog microchipped, collared and securely maintained in a home. Seems like a teachable moment for the 4 year old child about what happens when one is irresponsible with their pets. How unfair to put most of the blame the person who made a mistake that only could happen because the animal ended up somewhere she should never have been.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pamela

    OMG this dog survives the streets of Afghanistan and gets a better chance at life in America only to be euthanized by accident because SOMEONE wasnt paying attention to their JOB. Ugh too friggin sad of a story! As a dog owner myself my heart goes out to the soldier who rescued her and his family.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sharon


    I really don't understand this "kill the employee" battle cry that a lot seem to be doing on here. November 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm"

    What's not to understand?? You're a perfect example of what's wrong with people today. *shaking head*

    November 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      It is not as if I am in support of a person not doing their job, however killing an employee for killing a dog-albeit the wrong dog-is a bit harsh. And so protocols should be followed and checked off diligently. And if speaking out for responsibility is what is wrong with people nowadays, then that explains WHY there are thousands of dogs/cats being put down on a daily basis.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GetALife

    I'm sorry the dog died, but it was a mistake, not murder. The dog wasn't euthanized because its owner didn't secure the dog, or because the dog didn't have a collar or a license (though those might have helped Animal Control the dog get back to its owner). It was euthanized because someone grabbed the wrong dog and didn't verify that the dog they were going to kill was the one they were supposed to kill. Discipline the employee per the County's HR procedures, update the euthanasia procedure, and move on.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hawthorn

    Big oops!

    And just realize that similar things can happen to people, not euthanasia, but getting the wrong surgical procedure in a hospital, for example.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Haakon Dahl

    Of course the buffoon who killed her is probably a wreck right now. I'm mad, but don't demonize as evil a person who is just made a mistake. The person will need to be forgiveness. The system is the problem here, by which I specifically mean having life-and-death decisions made by 9-to-5 government employees. How's that government health care working out for you, Target?
    Bullets, bombs and being run over couldn't take this dog down, but a single weekend of government care did her in.
    I'm not anti-government. I work for the government. But I don't want it making my healthcare decisions.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • hawthorn

      How can you blame the system when this employee did not follow proper procedure. The problem is with the individual not following the rules set down to prevent such an incident.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roopee

      gov't care? mmmkay....

      November 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • JRT'd rather had non-medically trained "for profit" private companies with a vested interested in their bottom line making your health care decisions then, right? Because that's what you've got right now.

      Private, for-profit insurance companies will NEVER have your best medical interest at heart. They will always be concerned with their own bottom line first and foremost! And if you think otherwise then you're a da#n fool.

      Agreed the owner SHOULD have had a collar, tags/chip in place; HOWEVER, being that the employee took the wrong animal and FAILED to check which animal he had(otherwise he'd had gotten the correct one to begin with) it's HIGHLY unlikely that a collar/tag/chip would have made any difference in this instance at all.

      Also, we don't know how long this person had had the dog. The article says the dog arrived in GEORGIA in July. Dogs coming from overseas are always placed into quarantine. For all we know they could have had the dog a few days. The story just doesn't give enough information to say how long the dog had been in Arizona and how long with this owner.

      The shelter should look long and hard at their procedures. People are right when they say this happens all too frequently. Just most often it never makes local and certainly not national news. Shame on them.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa C

      JRT you are absolutely correct! They must be quarantined after arriving and then of course, the red tape.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. jrfoldes

    If there are harsher punishments available other then terminating the employee I encourage the penalty. Paid administrative leave is to lenient.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hawthorn

    People would not make mistakes like this if they actually suffered consequences. How about a deduction in pay for a whole month, with the proceeds going to the owners? That would be a start.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. g

    this whole thing is just wrong.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PARROT


    November 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      No, the real shame is that we can't euthanize everyone who chooses to reside within U.S. borders ILLEGALLY, as well as every clueless U.S. citizen who chooses to excuse and enable such illegal activity simply in order to advance their moronic liberal social and economic agenda. Now THAT is a solution that all decent, rational, law-abiding U.S. citizens could live with!

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

      William- Seriously? Euthanize them? Is there something wrong with you? If killing is what you think a "decent, rational, law-abiding U.S. citizen" would do, then you sicken me.

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

    Poor Target. I just watched her heartwarming story on Oprah the other day. What a shame 🙁

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


    November 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
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