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. RH of WI

    How very sad. The employee should be fired – period.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Or...

      They should euthanize the employee.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      The employee should be euthanized, period!

      November 16, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • DOG MAN

      The employee made a mistake, but teh blame lays on the shoulders of the irresponsible owners, no tag, no colar, thats BS and they should be held accountable

      November 16, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      DOG MAN – dogs have a way of losing their tags/collar, mine regularly escape from theirs and I have to gather them up and put them on them again...and that still does not excuse the life and death mistake that the employee made.

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

      Dog Man

      A dog may lose his collar, but you will never find a clue.

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

      Unclaimed strays get euthanized after three days, so technically the employee was doing his job – regardless of a breach in shelter protocol (if there even was one – the worker is on paid leave afterall). Why isn't anyone blaming the owner who left his poor dog in a shelter for FOUR DAYS? Doesn't sound like they were in a big hurry to find their lost dog. Some reward for a war hero.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • CatKilla

      So Dogman,
      If your kid gets lost in a store and I kidnap him, it's all your fault because you let your child out of your sight and I was just doing my job as a kidnapper, right? You \are the one who should be euthanized.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • keith d

      It's insane to fire someone and put another family closer, if not directly in poverty because of a dog. I own a dog and I love him very much and yes it would sadden me if something like this were to happen to him, but it's just an animal. the employee may have a family and bills to deal with. Obviously they made a bad mistake, but who out there hasn't? It's pitiful how people can so easily throw away human beings for animals.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • -J

      He did it for the lulz...

      November 16, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Or...

      They should euthanize the employee's family

      November 16, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      BRod wrote "Unclaimed strays get euthanized after three days, so technically the employee was doing his job – regardless of a breach in shelter protocol...."

      How is it you know so much about shelter laws in ALL shelters? Please explain where you learned Shelter Law, and how you know it never varies from state to state. It sounds like you think the BOSSES should be fired for not killing animals quickly enough.

      The article CLEARLY states the animal was not due for euthanization. Whether the dog had ID or not, the ACTUAL POLICY of the shelter was not to kill it, at least not at that time. So the employee decided to kill the wrong dog. That sort of mistake DIRECTLY CAUSED HARM to a family.

      The employee violated company rules and caused damage. How is that not ENTIRELY the employee's fault?

      November 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Stacy

    Why wasn't the dog tagged or wearing a collar? That is RIDICULOUS. It is very irresponsible not to tag animals. I personally feel sorry for the poor worker. We only get half the story. Maybe this employee was told by a superior to do this. We can't make assumptions that this employee is to blame. It is a tragedy, for sure, and if it were my animal, I would be devastated. But I would also feel guilty at not having any ID or information on the animal that might have helped get her back home safely.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      Sometimes dogs lose their collar and tag. I had a deaf dog that wandered to my neighbors house-meaning well she took his collar off and called me. He then disappeared from her yard. Happily for all he appeared back at home and lived a long life. I am sorry for everyone involved in Target's sad tale. I have spent many years working with animals and have made mistakes which were costly to the animals, just as when we make mistakes with children they get hurt, too. The best we can do is try to learn and prevent the same thing from happening again.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      The moron employee didn't even follow procedures; he should serve jail time!

      November 16, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Andrew

    Sad story, but the dude should have had the dog tagged or chipped.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      Dogs can lose tags and collars. And not every one can afford the expense to have a dog "chipped". Botton line is the employee screwed up, and the poor dog paid the price for that.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Vader

      D, you are wasting your time. These people are stupid. It's a major problem in the US right now. They are one dimensional (or less) thinkers.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      Darth – I see what you mean. It is saddening to see how some of the folks rush to call someone with a differing opinion "idiot" merely because they have a different opinion.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      Darth: its the fluoridated water.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Chipping is not very expensive...if someone can't afford that, what happens when they need routine vaccinations or get sick??

      November 16, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • D.L.

      Getting a microchip these days is as cheap as buying a collar and a tag.

      Expense isn't an excuse anymore.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wu

    to ERIC :Eric

    "You can't really call a dog a "hero" that dog wasn't making a conscious decision to help American soldiers... it was just an animal.. sad yes, but lets not attribute too many human traits to a dog here please"

    Idiot ... Dogs save thousands of lives on airports detecting explosives and drugs so shut up and save a life yourself!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Barbieuse2be

      Wu maybe it was you that euthanized the poor dog or somone very much like you.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Steph

      Barbiese: Wu was quoting someone else. If you would read over the comment again you will see that she was calling the person who said that an Idiot. Wu also stated that the comment was directed to someone called Eric. Good job reading what was typed. Quotations generally mean you're not speaking, but quoting someone else. I would try reading the comment again.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      Wu – dogs can make conscious decisions about right and wrong...I have 3, they have all demonstrated this ability and they are smarter than many people I know. Dogs all can have different personalities/intelligence levels, and it sounds like this one was quite smart...which makes it an even sadder story.

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

      Your an IDIOT!!

      November 16, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob


      No, you are an idiot.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. ShelleyB

    Fire the employee.......they don't deserve that job!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • DOG MAN

      Charge the owners for not having the dog tagged or colared. No way to identify the animal. The employee made a mistake that could only happen because the owners were not responsible.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      DOGMAN, the article states that the dog was not scheduled to be euthanized and that the worker mixed this dog up with another that was supposed to be euthanized. If they are that reckless with their job when it involves killing animals (not saying that euthanasia is not important step in animal control), then they should not have that job anymore, period.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • No chip? so?

      DONT blame the family. The dog wasn't scheduled for the death row, she didn't do anything wrong. Just because it wasnt a registered dog with the city is not reason to put her to sleep. Shame on the employee. What about charging the employee with animal cruelty? Where is PETA?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. cpetch

    Why wasn't the dog microchipped and licensed??

    November 16, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • LaLA

      It's my understanding that animals brought from other countries must be quarantined fora period of time before being allowed to go home. What I DON'T get is #1) that putting an animal in quarantine can make it go crazy pretty easily: and #2) Why do they quarantine at a shelter and possibly put other animals at risk?

      November 16, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • BeenThere

      LaLA - Normally dogs coming into the US do not need to be quaranined. I've brought over a dozen rescued dogs into the US. They only need a clean bill of health and a rabies vacination. It's possible that if they don't have that, quarantine might be necessary.

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

    FIRE HIM !!!! administrative leave that's great that he gets paid to NOT do his job right.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. whatajoke

    Wow, what a wonderful dog. I wonder if the owner will get one of her pups?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • DOG MAN

      I hope not, they did not look after the mother. NO tag or colar etc... that is an irresponsible owner

      November 16, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. milo tamez

    when humane society/city or county gases a good dog it reminds me of nazi gassing jews or other people. humane society/or other should stop killing animals and find a way to save the animals. For this incident they should fire across the board and emplement new procedures of saving dogs. Remember the State/County/City makes laws/rules and they are the only ones that can break them.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • woody

      Just to clear the air – they don't "gas" animals – it's an injection that goes directly into the blood and stops the animals heart almost instantly. Try to do research before posting.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • D.L.

      Actually, gassing is still unfortunately common. I doubt they use it at a big city shelter like this, but rural shelters all across the country still use gas chambers for euthanasia.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Gloria

    Wu you are the idiot – I work with dogs everyday and they do make many CONSCIOUS decisions – you on the other hand...

    November 16, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Steph

      If you would read Wu's comment more clearly, Wu was quoting someone named Eric. That sentence is in quotations and she called this Eric person an idiot. Great job reading the whole comment before going off on a tantrum.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • God

      Gloria, the force is not with you. Your reading comprehension seriously sucks, as well.

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

      I think a large part of the problem is how easily so many people want to label someone else an "idiot". In this respect, once again, it illustrates how a typical dog is more intelligent than some people...

      November 16, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Al

    To survive bullet injuries in an Afghan war zone, and then put down in an American shelter. That's sick.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • DG

      Sort of reminds me how we treat some of our veterans – a terrible thing for a heroic animal, but perhaps we should be addressing the care of our human war veterans with the same compassion AND media coverage. How many Vietnam and Gulf War veterans are being mistreated (even untreated) right now?

      November 16, 2010 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cody

    Can we please get over this huge hypocrisy that so many people have of loving dogs (or cats) but eating, enslaving, and endlessly exploiting virtually every other non-human animal?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • The Answer

      For a long time humans have domesticated cats and dogs and feel a close attachment to them as companions. Perhaps if people decided years ago that Cows made great pets more people would have cows as pets and thus feel more compassion for them.

      Another point to make is cats and dogs in most developed nations aren't seen as a potential food sources.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • SoS

      Waaah! Go cry somewhere else. If you don't like the story don't bother reading AND commenting.

      For the record, that dog had worth. It was a hero as dogs go. There are some people in this world that are simply useless and couldn't do what this dog did.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Id eat you if you weren't so full of smug.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Barnacle Bill

      I haven't got room in my apartment for a Cow, but I would probably enjoy a bit of long pig for dinner.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sean

    More proof that the whole state of Arizona is a mess. Racial profiling, John McCain, Jan Brewer and these idiots - what a mess - and they want to tell those of us who live in the civilized parts of the country how to live our lives.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • groovygoober

      Oh yes, one single incident performed by one single employee at a single animal shelter translates into a completely messed up state. Do you think oyu can go off the deep end a little bit more and perhaps sensationalize this to a higher level? Please, get over yourself idiot.

      Racial profiling? Perhaps you are in need of a dictionary or further education. If you are referencing the recent laws Arizona enacted due to the failure of the feds to do their job, then you definitely need education since mexican is NOT a race.

      Stop drinking the kool-aid and wake up.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Texan

      Yes shawn....I'm sure this was animal profiling...idiot

      November 16, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tony

    This is, indeed, sad, but what should bother everyone is the "wrong dog" part, which means another dog was/still is scheduled to be put down. All dogs deserve to live, heroes or not.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • groovygoober

      So how many dogs are you rescuing from the shelter on a daily basis?

      November 16, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      groovygoober: My family has rescued three dogs this years from the shelter. We have five total.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |

    What a shame!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
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