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. Mok

    This makes me sick.

    November 16, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. donna

    Animal shelters are so quick to kill the animals in their care, because you see there is money in killing the animals as opposed to keeping them, if you donate to the high kill shelters you are part of the problem. If you are going to donate, donate to the no-kill shelters, because there main concern are the animals.

    November 16, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. daniel

    guess she did nt have her green card for sheriff JOE. you know how they treat illegals in arizona

    November 16, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. lieNoMore

    Yo we have all become incredibly lazy, everyone seems to want to be sit-back do-nothing manager. Step up, pay attention, and do a good job –then things like those won't happen. Make something good if for nothing else but your own self-respect. Being a dirtbag MC is a waste of time, do something real and put the ipod or cellphone away for a few hours a day.

    November 16, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mateo Slim

    This 'dog' was a soldier, war hero, and someone's best friend (if not many more). RIP Target, you will be missed.

    Concerning chip/tagging... I think it's always a good idea to have a tag/collar, but micro-chips are expensive and I can't think of a single friends pet that has a chip implant. It doesn't mean we don't love our pets or care about their safety as much as the next guy does his pet. How many of you grew up in a home without an alarm system? Would it be fair to say that your parents cared less about your safety than the Jone's, merely because they didn't invest in an alarm system... what would you tell the father who lost his family in CT. That it was his fault and not the man that chose to murder his family then burn their home?

    November 16, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. mp

    wow I am amazed at the incompetence displayed by the worker that was responsible for this mistake.. I imagine it happens all the time at this shelter , they just got caught this time.. Even the "kill" shelters give 7 days min. for a "found stray" the ones turned in by owners sadly do not get a waiting period.. I am not sure if this differs by state. I do know that our shelters, even though considered kill shelters, will actually give more time to these pets..Only the sick ones will normally be put down.. I know accidents happen but this person should be highly reprimanded over her mistake.. If I were the owner I would probably file suit against them for not following through.. this is really sad.... I feel for this poor pup and his family.. Wow just looked over a few more comments.. People... PLEASE hold these shelters responsible if they have "accidentally" KILLED your pet.. PLEASE !!!! It is the only way things will ever change... I have never been one that likes the idea of suing, but it may be time to pursue this ..... Possibly get the officials to bring animal cruelty charges against these shelters... Please do something !

    November 16, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mark Lincoln

    Arizona knows how to treat immigrants! Sick them Sheriff Joe!

    November 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      Right. And I bet this dog did more to courageously protect the U.S. than Sheriff Joe and most of these other negative loudmouths!

      November 16, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. shankar

    Someone should euthanize the employee for stupidity "accidentally".

    November 16, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. David

    This dog put its life in the line of fire for the United States. Most people leaving comments here would not have that kind of courage. The employee who euthanized her should be imprisoned for taking the life of a national hero!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jennys942

    I think the negligent employee should be accidentally euthanized.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Unknown

    Anyone esle notice that the comments with a P.M. time stamp are at the very bottom?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. JR

    [Parrot] heh an apt name for propoganda spouter:
    What the H-e-hockeys stick doe Sheriff Joe have to do with it? He is VOTED in ya know-even when paid protestors from other states caused trouble! And more than once! He is teh voice of AZ..dont like it? Find another state! (I moved for my sons disablity has little resources because estate budget is STRAINED with illegal problems on system! hmm. So much for my 20 years taxes and voting before i myself needed aide)
    And BTW his Sheriffs Posse are some of the the harshest punishers of animal cruelty when caught.. it takes 15 complaints to get AC to investigate. SIX for sheriffs to do well check. Teh City actually protected that goon that left his dog to die from being prosecuted by the county tho it wasnt in national headlines when so many lleft wing extremists hate Joe.
    And as a former resident from 1986-2010 I say go back to Mexico or whatever liberal state you originally hailed from.
    Joe Arpaio UPHOLDS LAW,. If you dont like the law then change it thru legistlature..oh yeah.. it gets voted down by the REAL voters! Every time so far.
    Illegal means illegal., PERIOD. So if a whole family is cannibals or a drug cartel and all are detained its not fair because some are children? It is not like they are rounded up to death camps..they are just sent back HOME. Becuase if they wanted to be Americans they would do as my grandmas folk did- BECOME CITIZENS!
    Prison isn't supposed to be FUN!
    This isnt about Joe tho-its about an employee paid by taxes not doing the smallest measure of knowing their own office and others suffering because of it! Staight up!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. chillin mom

    what a way for this dog to die after going through so much and to save those soldiers lives. ihope she rest in peace and the soldier who adopted her will find peace and honor her memory.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Regina

      well said

      November 16, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Morton Manibi

    Can we just euthanize the tech who made the error and call it a day?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. deac

    Its hard to find good help anymore

    November 16, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Beverly Rios

      The employee should be fired. There is no excuse for this stupidity

      November 16, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • S.F.

      Just another way to get the micro chipping agenda out there so we buy the bull that it's actually good for our pets & us!

      So many people are probably reading this and saying, "Oh, we need to get our Fifi or Rover chipped...."


      November 16, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      There's also no excuse for a pet owner to leave his dog sitting in a shelter for four days.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Vader

      That "micro chipping agenda" has reunited many a pet owner with their pet. What is YOUR agenda?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • All Dogs Go To Heaven

      The employees should be euthanized. That dog was a hero!!! It accomplished more than those pitiful employees will ever hope to accomplish. After working in a shelter for awhile I would think your heart would turn to cement after killing so may dogs. They probably just figured it was another life that no one cared about. Absolutely disgusting....

      November 16, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • vandy

      For all this talk about owners tagging pets, and "allowing" them to sweat in a shelter for four days as if they knew that's where the dog was, what does it speak for a "shelter" that kills animals? After claiming to try and reunite them with their owners... the dull-headed employee must be tagged for life

      November 16, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Careless


      November 16, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • what is wrong with you people?

      Why is it, everyone wants to blame the victim (family). Failure to microchip/license is not what killed this dog, an employee did. You think that the guy that left his door unlocked deserved to be robbed, or the girl that wore a short skirt deserves what she gets, or someone that dies when hit by a drunk deserved it if he didn't have his seatbelt on, or some aid worker deserves to die if they go to Somolia. Yes, maybe IF the microchip was in, the door was locked, the skirt was longer, the seatbelt was on, the aid worker stayed home none of these things happen, but why stop there, maybe we should all cage/chain our animals, build fortresses, wear clothes from head to toe, drive tanks with airbags, and never help a third world country, then we might not be responsible for someone else's actions?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • P_CZ

      S.F.: I am VEHEMENTLY opposed to micro-chipping people & would NEVER accept one myself, but I have my $1200 dog micro-chipped. She's not only like my child, but an expensive investment & I would want her back. I guess we shouldn't put VIN #'s on car parts either, eh? Because, according to your philosophy, it may lead to tattooing a number system on our parts...right?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Idle Observer

      Euthanized in a shelter in Arizona? They probably did it because he was an immigrant. He didn't have his chip in so they assumed he was illegal. That is how they work in AZ now isn't it?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • D.L.

      The microchipping agenda? Jesus, people are afraid of everything these days. A $12 microchip that can reunite you with your pet is hardly a big evil thing. It's an animal, not a person, nor is it some sort of fundie-feared slippery slope to the mark of the beast.

      And it doesn't matter if you paid $1200 for your dog or found them on the side of the road, any beloved family pet is worth getting chipped, because no pet is replaceable.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Dionne

      Ultimately, the responsibility of this unfortunate error is with the director of the facility. You can email her suggest you ask for her resignation.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • john

      what a piece of crap that employee is......!!

      November 16, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • crabman

      hay sf BITE ME

      November 16, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin


      Sometimes the owner is not informed of the dog's location, so they might not have known. Also, the shelter may have been far away - it might have been impossible to get there earlier.

      It sounds like you blame the owners for this.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      Well, he was coming off a weekend binge, so despite all the media coverage (we'll forget Facebook–he was probably looking at THAT sort of Internet, if he had it)..... what do you expect of a govt. employee? (As a John Bircher mother–state govt. employee–of friends of mine used to repeat: "That's good enough for govt. work!")

      November 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JM

      Wow, S.F, you really are an idiot. That's exactly what happened – this is a ploy from the microchipping companies to sell more chips... Truth of the matter is that if Target WAS microchipped and enrolled, she would be alive now and not DEAD

      November 16, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • SmartBlondie

      @S.F. what is your problem with microchipping? No one is asking you to get one, but I do think neutering might be a good option for you. It's a safe, effective way to reunite pets and their owners. Why someone would have a problem with that is beyond me.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • P_CZ

      D.L.: It doesn't matter how much you spent on your dog ONLY in a world where money grows on trees... Protecting my investment is important, regardless of how much I love her. To that end, micro-chipping is a form of insurance for your pocketbook, as well as your heart.

      And pets, in fact, are replaceable. Have you not had a pet die or get lost? Are you still unable to replace it with another? I'm not talking a clone here...just another animal companion. If you have, then you replaced your pet.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul Riendeau

      The Problem here is with the Philosophy of the SPCA in general. They Kill animals to save them from abuse! It is unbelievably inhuman. In many places they have trucks set up that Gas the animal before it even arrives back at the Shelter. Their priority is taking the Animal off the street. They only keep the ones they think they can make a buck off of. It is very easy for some employee to make a "mistake" under those conditions.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • THX

      Makes me wonder how many other animals that employee mistakenly killed.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
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