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. Zoolook

    So lets get this right... this dog gets repeatedly shot at over a few years in war torn Afghanistan, but comes out with minor injuries. Then it gets rescued and brought to America, where a clerical error of some description gets it methodically killed after a few days! I am almost not surprised.

    I wonder if this could be clapped as yet another example of friendly fire that the americans seem to be so good at?

    For the record, this was not an accident... this was incompetence. Learn the difference between them!

    November 16, 2010 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      You've got it right, Zoolook. No accident. Pure incompetence...heart breaking, heart stopping incompetence.
      And don't wonder too long about American "friendly fire". That's usually the result of chaotic, confusing conditions
      and heart stopping fear.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. chillipepper

    Stupid owner for letting the Dog to run away. I always know where my dog is make sure it can't run away. Now this was a hero dog and the owner should of been very watchful. Stupid owner

    November 16, 2010 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. LeavingCali

    To people making dumb comments about Republicans and Dems on this story...

    Seriously, get a life and a clue, mix together, and enjoy. This story is NOT about politics. Find a more appropriate story to showcase your inadequacies.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      You're right, Cali. This story isn't and shouldn't have been trashed by politics, but people like Reality always find a
      way to squeeze it in. And I'll apologize to you for my Liberal response to him/her if it so offends you. That said, I've
      GOT an enjoyable life with no particular "inadequacies". I suggest that you put your money where your mouth is and
      and make regular donations to your underfunded animal shelters, join those of us in the ASPCA who actively rescue
      and give homes to abandoned and abused dogs. Or better yet go and relieve the incompetence and irresponsibility
      that you so bemoan...volunteer at your local animal shelter. In other words, DO something!

      November 16, 2010 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. dlh814

    RIP baby girl......Welcome to America!! Let's try spaying our pets and keep the shelters from being over run with homeless animals. Shut down puppy mills!!!! Adopt instead of buying pups from Pet stores!!! Obviously one too many dogs and cats that are homeless and being euthanized very minute. How sad and heartbreaking!! Seems like a daily practice at this particular clinic/shelter....... did we even give a few days for the owner to find his War time buddy/ savior?

    November 16, 2010 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
    • LeavingCali

      Another saddening/maddening blow will be the major cuts many animal shelters have to take because of state/local budgets. More euthanized animals because of irresponsible people...all around.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. howard

    As a dog owner myself, I give most blame to the dog owner. He had 5 months to chip or earmark the dog, or at least give the dog a collar with a name and phone number on it. Not doing that was irresponsible and cost the dog his life. The owner must take responsibility for the safety of his dog. I hope other pet owners who have not tagged their dogs read this and immediately go to the vet and get their animals tagged.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      It was done properly for a very long time before chips were around.

      November 16, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. BigJ

    @ALL NEGATIVE POSTERS – I can't believe how many negative comments have been posted about this piece of news!! I mean those negative posters MUST be absolute morons. They have either didn't understand what this Dog was all about and WHY this sad story made the news or they are sheer stupid. My question to you, as a Dog, this animal saved lives, HOW MANY lives did YOU save?! So think before you post. God, no wonder America is in the state it is in... From a World leading 1st world country, becoming a 3rd World trailer 🙁

    November 16, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      Just wondering, by "NEGATIVE POSTERS" are you referring to the people who called for the reciprocal murder of the person who accidentally put down the wrong stray dog, or...?

      November 16, 2010 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. WintersWar

    the owner is to blame, no tag or chip, the dog was in many dangers when she got away. just taken out by an unexpected one.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Stu

    This is an absolute disgrace. Euthanize everyone in that shelter. Those of you that think this issue isn't important are complete inept stupid ignorant idiots. PERIOD! "Those who cannot speak that have no voice" need to be heard and defended by us. This country needs to wake the hell up and do whats morally right, in everything we do.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe, LA, CA

    what the hell else can go wrong with this country.. gez us kee-rist..

    November 16, 2010 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. BootsC

    WOW! This story seems to have brought out the best and worst of people. Maybe the dog didn't want to live in a country where people can't agree to disagree in a respectfull maner with each other.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. daryl

    You people need less crack and more valium

    November 16, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mo Trin

    With exception of a very few considerate and thoughtful individuals, this collection of comments sounds like an angry mob. Why is it that a story about a simple but tragic mistake and its aftermath can cause the perceived level of stupidity to rise? To those of you who are crying, "get over it – it's just a dog," most of you would sing a different tune if it were your dog, or if the dog had saved your life inadvertently or otherwise. But thank you to those like Stunned who understand the tragedy compassionately.

    November 16, 2010 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jay O

    I remember reading this story before. The dog had been stabbed and I think shot. The dog was treated by US troops and showed some kindness. The one soldier approached the Afgan government soldiers and asked Who did this. When one soldier proudly took credit He put a knife to the guy and asked how "how He would like It." The troops left the dog and left the area. The dog followed the US troops miles back to base and alerted them . I remember the US soldier being surpised at the dogs affection for people seeing how it had been so abused. The dog paid back the troops by alerting them to a bomb.
    To anyone who finds fault with a soldier returning from a warzone for not having his dog tagged is an unsympathetic moron. This guy and dog lived through a hellish nightmare together most people never have to deal with. I'm sure the bond was very strong and helped him hang on to his humanity and sanity in a difficult situation. I think he had plenty of things to deal with when he returned from his tour and tagging his dog was, understandably, not high on the prioity list. My hope is this guy doesn't unwind from PTSD and is able carry on. When I first read the story, it struck a nerve with me and reaffirmed my belief in our soldiers humanity. This is just a horrible ironic twist which kind of takes that away. My heart goes out to him and his family for their loss.
    When I first read this, I was really angry with the worker who did this, but He/She obviously didn't realize who this particular dog was or did. I guess when dealing with life and death situations, even the life and death of an animal, We need to realize the impact of our actions.

    November 16, 2010 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. Stu

    Reality, go back to where you came from, a trash can. You need psychiatric help, big time. Read Lynns post about morals. You obviously have none.

    November 16, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. Cynthia

    People are so stupid. This saddens me.

    November 16, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
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