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)

    There were many people responsible....but primarily the owner....Where was her collar, where was her tags? A collar and tags and/or microchip is the very first thing the dog should have received......

    November 16, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Allonsy

      Perhaps she wiggled out of the collar or it got stuck on something and it broke free. Wouldn't be the first time....

      November 16, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Charlie Kilo

    I believe the employee who killed Target was a muslim terrorist!

    November 16, 2010 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. jake


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

      I know. I can't believe no one has blamed Obama yet!!

      November 16, 2010 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
    • jjsmith3894

      CC- I'll do it! This is Obama's fault for not providing universal healthcare and taxpayer-funded dog chipping! This administration is infringing on our rights to quarter canines in a time of war!

      November 16, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lindsay

    Poor dog RIP 🙁

    As for adopting dogs over there, vs. here in the US the worst our strays have it here, is still about 100 times better than stray animals have it over there. I don't care where the life comes from, just glad ot see one has been saved.. well was saved 🙁

    November 16, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Core

    Arizona is full of idiots, so I'm not surprised. Poor fella did her job in Afghanistan, comes back only to be bit in the butt by the stupidity of the same people she tried to protect. Let's face it, some people are just not cut out for this world. There's no way to sugar coat it, and be politically correct, the majority of the population are stupid. We see it everyday, from the guys taking our orders at restaurants, to the ones driving the taxi's.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • C T

      And the biggest idiot of all was the idiot who brought her back and couldn't manage over the course of five months to register or chip the dog or give her a collar with a tag. Let's hope they do better with their children.

      November 16, 2010 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Yes, let's hope they microchip their children and use collars with a tag on.

      November 16, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      AMEN! Don't forget the publicity-seeking politicians and self-proclaimed pastors.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mr. Insha - sweet is Victory

    Excellent outcome and a great start for people who have no business in any true country and are illegal to be there. So then really it is good to see how the people who value dogs more than our real life are now living with the dogs. Criminals love dogs to save them from their own crimes. The people who do not need those dogs are called "human".

    November 16, 2010 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • D.L.

      What??? Does any of this make sense to any one? I'm confused by Mr.Insha's rambling.

      November 16, 2010 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      What does your name mean, Mr. Insha? Insha? I think it means you and your countrymen are a bunch of
      sand sucking turds. The dogs in your country have more brains and dignity than you'll ever know. Here's
      the bottom of my shoes to you, and I hope the next dog that bites you is rabid!

      November 16, 2010 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |
    • KLL

      Mr. Insha – you are obviously not able to use the English language properly. What you said does not make sense nor do you even have the sensitivity or intelligence of a piece of dirt. If you don't like this country, move back to your country of origin. I'd rather live and love animals than to deal with a subhuman like you.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
    • C T

      Mr. Insha, please put down the crack pipe before you attempt to post again.

      November 16, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia

      Huh????? You talk an awful lot for someone who doesn't say anything......... You make no sense, go lay down somewhere.

      November 16, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Loki

    Euthenize that stupid shelter worker! That's what Target got, so let that worker experience how it feels firsthand. Sadistic freak killing animals for a living, there's a special place in hell and the sooner this idiot is there, the better. And fire Pinal County Animal Care and Control Director Ruth Stalter who is just trying to cover her pathetic a** , she has no business working in behalf of animals, shelters are there to protect not to kill animals. There are always foster homes for overcrowded shelters, if this shelter management doesn't hve the intelligence to have figured that out yet, there are plenty of compassionate no-kill shelters throughout the country who can explain the process of developing foster care trees to relieve the burden of overcrowded shelters. Target was clearly a healthy, gorgeous, intelligent, gentle dog with many happy years ahead of her. This truly is beyond sad, that this sweet heroic innocent dog who survived so much in Afghanistan, being shot and attacked only to be killed in America by a low life idiot with an IQ of 2. My heart goes out to Target and her family. What Target did though in her final act of selflessness is to bring our awareness to what happens daily to innocent animals in shelters throughout the country who are murdered in silence with no one to ever care about what happened. It is appauling, a karmic travesty of which we should all be ashamed -of how we are so careless and cavelier with animal's lives. Perhaps that is why I say, euthenize the worker who killed Target, if that is outrageous, then so should it be the number of innocent animals who are killed daily just like Target was.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • rose

      You'd better be running or helping a no-kill shelter, or fostering animals at your own house if you so firmly believe what you have to say about plenty of opportunities to avoid euthanasia. That is not the way I see the world. Oh, and I'm sure that the person who euthanized the poor dog doesn't likely feel good about the situation, nor do I believe they enjoy euthanizing animals for a living. what you say is similar to someone ranting that any person who ran over an animal and killed it with a car deserves to be run over and killed themselves. It's tragic, let's leave it at that.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
    • C T

      Better yet, let's euthanize Target's family who loved that dog SOOOOO much that they never registered her or had her chipped after five months. It's not the worker's fault that we allow stupid people to have breed and own animals when they lack the intelligence to care for them.

      November 16, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Barbara Vesely

      I am so living and so sad about what the Pinal County Arizona Animal care did to Target. Apparently none of you folks who work there have dogs. They give you unconditional love. Without asking for a thank you. What if a son or newphew of yours was saved my Target would you aditude change. Lets give the stupid thoughtless idiot a taste of euthenasia and a new job. Parking cars or sweeping floors at the nearest farm. Barb

      November 16, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bunny

    Such a sad story. Poor dog was probably better off in the streets than in an animal "shelter". Animal death camp is what they should be called.

    We need to stop euthanizing dogs and put more criminals to sleep.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. DogLover

    the person who did this should be fired not put on administrative leave. i just wonder how many other families lost their pets because of this idiot. there is no excuse for this happening. maybe the person who killed the dog feels like tori and's just a dog. i can tell you, i prefer dogs to people just for reasons like this. i wish i knew where this moron lived so i could bring a four legged friend with me to see how he likes the "accident" the dog will have with him. it would be "oh i'm sorry , i accidently had him rip the wrong guys leg off" put me on administrative leave and everything will be ok.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • FuzzyNutz

      Actually you taking your dog over and having it attack a person is a felony. You would most certainly be charged meanwhile this other azzhat responsible while still be collecting his pay sitting on his couch watching soap operas all day.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      Fuzzy's right. All you'd be doing was guaranteeing that another one of your precious canine friends would get put down. Also, what a disgusting thing to advocate or say. You are actually worse than the unfortunate lab tech who made a regrettable mistake because you would actually stand here and advocate a life for a life over a DOG.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tom Bellamy

    Let me guess, a government employee?

    November 16, 2010 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
    • CC

      Your suggestion is that all government employees are all stupid; by your logic all private sector workers are greedy crooks like the Wall Street types that took our country down the toilet.
      None of this has anything to do with this sad story. Mistakes were made by many.

      November 16, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. LowPro

    Wow, the irony. Saved from a country whose people were trying their hardest to heinessly murder you to actually being killed by a countries answer to not having a family. Brings new meaning to being killed by kindness.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    All I got to say is what a stupid freaking idiot. Lets euthanize the stupid human that did it to the wrong dog

    November 16, 2010 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
    • rose

      disgusting comment.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
    • C T

      The only stupid human would be the owner who couldn't be bothered with registering the dog or even giving her a collar with a phone number written on it.

      November 16, 2010 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
    • donavon

      dave, your value system makes you seem dangerous. i think you're just flippant. otherwise i'd be worried about you.

      November 16, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mr. Insha - sweet is Victory


    Arizona is full of idiots, so I'm not surprised. Poor fella did her job in Afghanistan, comes back only to be bit in the butt by the stupidity of the same people she tried to protect. Let's face it, some people are just not cut out for this world. There's no way to sugar coat it, and be politically correct, the majority of the population are stupid. We see it everyday, from the guys taking our orders at restaurants, to the ones driving the taxi's."


    LOL ^*^

    Anything else you would like to steal from other countries? Women, gold, oil, diamonds, land, the sky, children....oh wait... that is the old and predictable news... sleeping and driving with the dogs when your doggy mate leaves you,,,, :))

    November 16, 2010 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      @ lol Just discovered what your name means, Insha. It means Arabic/Irianian/Yemeni/Afghan/Pakistani FOOL.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. Stunned

    I can't believe how insensitive some of the people posting here are. It's no wonder this world is so screwed up. My heart goes out to the family that lost such a good companion. By the way, cool idea Dave. And way in hell did this story trump the stories about our soldiers being killed. It's just a sad and tragic addition to all the heartache that these stupid wars have caused. That dog saved this soldiers life and he was greatful for that and wanted to repay her actions with a happy safe life. Unfortunately that didn't happen.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      You should change your name from "Stunned" to "Stupid." It's a DOG. People hit them with cars every day. The real hero, the AMERICAN SOLDIER, came home to his family. So what, a lab tech made a mistake, but it was a DOG that died.

      Grow up.

      November 16, 2010 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
    • TeaofChai

      Stunned, I agree with you. 😀

      Reality, you make me sick.
      Yes, it is true that human lives are very important. But many people have an extreme emotional bond with these beautiful animals who love us unconditionally.
      'Grow up' really? 'The real hero'?
      Yes, the man was a hero, and he saved many lives.
      But so did the dog. What are you going to say to that?
      So in reality, the dog should be treated equally. But our world doesn't work like that, now does it?
      It's just a really unfortunate and sad story that people can somewhat relate to.

      R.I.P Target...

      November 16, 2010 at 3:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality


      In absolutely no way ever should a dog be considered an equal with a human being. UNLESS we can teach them to read, write, speak articulately, drive, debate, reason, dress themselves, cook their own food, use the toilet... but none of that is ever going to happen. We've been breaking in dogs for literally longer than we've been believing in gods and they have yet to pick up any of what makes us human. Dogs as equals? Put your money where your mouth is and vote for a dog for Congress in the next round of political elections here. Extend First Amendment rights to every Saint Bernard, French Poodle, and Great Dane... Let them vote!

      Come on, you can't seriously believe any of what you just tried to say to me. A dog died. Someone had the vanity to name it and condescend to it, briefly, before it died. A 4 year old boy's father is home, the dog was going to die at some point anyway. Sounds like all is well in that corner of the world.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      @ Reality "In absolutely no way ever should a dog be considered an equal with a human being." Tell that to the blind man
      with his guide dog. Tell it to the invalid whose dog does everything from turning on the lights in the morning to tucking him
      into bed at night. What kind of "REALITY" are you, anyway? I suspect that in "reality" you are afraid of dogs. Jerk!

      November 16, 2010 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. tenman

    Why the euphemism? Call it what it is. MURDER. They 'accidentally' murdered this loving, sentient being.

    How about 'accidentlally' "euthanizing" the creep who murdered the dog? seems about right to me.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      "MURDER?" Get over yourself. There is no victim here except the lab tech who made an unfortunate mistake. A soldier came home, a son still has a father, a family is still intact, and you want to accuse someone of "MURDER" over a dead dog? come on...

      November 16, 2010 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
    • donavon

      tenman is trolling. otherwise insane.

      November 16, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
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