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. cryAll youWant

    The employee can now get a job at PETA. PETA kills more animials then any other group. STOP the SLAUGHTER PETA.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike Granada Hills

    This employee was in such a rush to euthanize, maybe someone should euthanize this person.

    This dog save lives in Afghanistan and this crappy shelter goes ahead and executes it.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chip

    Oops.NOT! Once the Arizonan determined the dog was an Afghan, he just put it to death.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cathy

    This made me so sad. That dog deserved better. Why did he not have ID on. Why did the Shelter worker
    KILL the dog. Please fire this employee. They should not be working at a animal shelter ever.
    I read about this happening to dogs before. Its really is a total shame.
    Shame on the employee.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      You do realize dogs ARE indeed euthanized in shelters all over the US every day, right?

      November 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Eric of Reseda

    Makes me sick....

    November 15, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pets for Patriots

    If he or she is interested, we will help this soldier find a new pet friend through our charity, Pets for Patriots (

    November 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dwynwen

      That's a lovely program that I was completely unaware of. Can my local no-kill shelter participate?

      November 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      What a WONDERFUL program. Can't thank you enough !!

      November 15, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fred

    Euthanize the person that did it and give their family a Darwin award.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Trish

    I would like a timeline on this dog. How long was she here in the US? Microchipping an animal costs $30 and a vet or shelter can usually get a dog in within a day or two. There is absolutely no excuse for a pet to go unchipped, had she been, the shelter would have been able to find out who owned the dog and contacted them ASAP. This dog could be alive today. I point the finger at the owners and ask why they had not gotten her chipped, but if the dog had only been in the country for a week or so I can almost understand.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cesar

    The look in that dog's eyes shows a glimmer of hope and happiness. It would have been nice if at least one wonderful dog made it out of there, but no, not even that.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rhea

    This disgusts me. Obviously this shelter and the people who run it don't care very much about the animals or this would never have happened. They have no procedures in place... I volunteer at the shelter in my town and we get animals from the south and southwest ALL THE TIME because they euthanize animals within days of picking up a stray. In fact my dog is a rescue from Tennessee. She is a sweetheart and has been since the day I got her 9 years ago at the age of 8 mos old. They have no spay or neuter programs. The director should be fired along with the tech who euthanized the dog. I wonder what the place looks like..maybe it should be closed.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • BuzzMann

      I live in Tennessee and I got my dog from the pound .It cost me 50dollars and that payed for first shots and spay or neuter.This is only way they will let you get one.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Papa T

    Save the animals. Euthanize the people. Better yet, if people want to live, adopt an animal from the shelter.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cds

    Funny what does the color of the person have to do with this and who said it was a male all they said was employee and then "plus this is ultimately the fault of dog breeders" One Target, was recently brought over from Afghanistan by a soldier who had returned from his tour of duty and was not from the USA. Get a life the problem lays with the employee for failing to follow procedures........

    November 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. merecat


    November 15, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Disgruntled Canuck

    Obviously, the tech is living on limited brain cells and probably should be fired. But, why wasn't this dog tagged...? This is on the idiot who allowed the dog to be put in this situation in the first place.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    This just sickens me. First of all why is the Pinal County Animal Care and Control not a NO KILL facility and why did the employee not check a list to make sure he/she had the correct dog. This employee cannot truely care about the animals in the facility and needs to never work with animals again.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
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