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. ddb

    Unbelieveable. You have this dog that saves all these soldiers, you bring to america, you give her a good home and you didn't even put a collar on or microchip her????? You, her owner, even wear dog tags. Whats your excuse? Duh, I forgot. Yep, you really loved that dog. No excuse!! As for the euthanization, way to go! I'm always reading stories about these mistakes. From the newscast, they said the owner called in and said they would pick up Monday (why wait until Monday if you love dog so much. I would have been there in a heartbeat) but they still mistakenly euthanized???

    November 16, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. LaLA

    I don't care if the animal was tagged or not. The employee FAILED miserably by simply NOT FOLLOWING procedure.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • DOG MAN

      You should care if the dof was tagged or not unless of course your an idiot and dont think owners need to be responsible for their animals

      November 16, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Fish

    What a sad story. But wait before you can watch the video on this tradedy you have to watch our commercial first...

    November 16, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. TexasTom

    Target attacked the suicide bomber. All these other people around & he attacked the bomber. Sounds to me as though Target was a lot smarter than Wu is. It's a damn shame what happened to that steller dog. "TARGET", mans best friend.

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

      maybe read Wu's post again... very slowly.... try very hard to comprehend.... see quotations?..... the "To ERIC" part....? Understand yet?? *Hint – it was a reply to someone else's quote.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Gaz

    This not only sums up the whole war effort, it sums up everything the U.S has become.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. mommamia

    feel sorry for the WORKER? The dog wasn't even suppose to be euthanized- the story states that and also states the employee took the dog out of the cage to do just that- what a way for an animal shelter to operate! I wonder what the employee would of done if it were thier dog?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sad

    While I wish they would have had the dog inside or on a leash so it didn't get away to start with, it's very sad that this happened. There shouldn't be euthanizations to start with, because we shouldn't have thousands upon thousands of dogs being born without safe homes to go to! My heart goes out to the family, especially the kids. They tried to do a good thing in bringing the dog to their home, and it ended badly. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PET, PEOPLE. Then we won't have enough dogs in shelters where situations like this would even happen. Shelters should be for lost pets, not discarded.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Peter E

    In general this is more a symptom of the over-reliance on pet-euthanasia by our over-commercialized corporate pet industry. America has little regard for pets, treats them as toys to be thrown away, neglects or even abandons them. Americans actually expect strays to be picked up and euthanized all the time. Is it really a surprise then that such an accident happens? This worker made a terrible mistake yes, but in the context of his regular job that we Americans expect him to do all the time!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. Justin

    "On Monday morning, the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen and euthanized it. The dog was not scheduled for euthanasia."

    You don't mistakenly kill something. It's not like oops, I mistakenly took a dog out of a cage and mistakenly injected it with a substance that mistakenly stopped its heart. My bad. I hope someone mistakenly euthanizes the person who did this...

    November 16, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. G

    The owner didn't have tags on the dog, didn't have it licensed, didn't have a microchip in the dog (which is pretty cheap to do), and apparently hadn't even called the shelter to find the dog? I hate it that the dog was put down but whos fault is it, really?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. dividia snape

    HAHAHA Arizona! You want to get rid of illegal citizens, so you start with illegal dog from Afghanistan? Way to spread the message, AZ.

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

      Bet an illegal alien didn't do this...just some dumb Arizona redneck!

      November 16, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kim

    I am part of the group that helped fund her trip to the US. The dog was chipped I believe, and the family had been franticly trying to find her for the past week. We all worked so hard to get Target reuinited with her soldier. Please don't blame the family. They loved her dearly.

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

      No microchip, no tags. They let their dog sit in a shelter for four days. Shelters only legally have to hold a stray for three days. You can bet I blame the owners.

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

      Kim – It's great that you work with that group. Good for you!

      November 16, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. B. Vaughan

    I am so tired of people saying they are so shocked.... This is a dog that was out; and by law, it was picked up and put in a shelter. This dog was not tagged per the law and it was put to sleep. I am sorry it was a war hero, I am sorry a child lost a friend, but if the family was so worried about the dog it would have been at least tagged so ownership could be verified. Is it because the dog was a war hero that makes everyone mad, or is it the fact that a pet was put down? We have BRAVE SOLDIERS that are killed in war and we hear less about it then we do this dog, that is the sad story. So the point is not that a human mad a mistake (I am sure no one on here has made a mistake) the point is that if this pet was so loved and so cherished why was it not properly tagged or microchipped? Next time treat your pet as a hero you claim it to be and take the required steps to ensure that if the animal does get out, it can be returned. Before you respond to this comment with hatred think back of the last time you made a comment about a deceased soldier that was protested, a deceased soldier that was flown home to an empty airport, or a wounded soldier that is getting insufficient medical care. Then make your remark.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • SDurham

      You're an idiot and need a good butt kicking to straighten you out.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • jimboe

      I like animals more than humans.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • klr

      the difference is the dog is an innocent that has no control over anything. Where as our soldiers make a decision knowing they could die. They are hero's but they know what they are getting into. The dog is just an innocent pawn used for war and murdered by stupidity...

      You know all about stupidity right? Where people think its ok for animals to be murdered if there is no law or someone is careless.


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


      What is it about the phrase "the dog was not scheduled for euthanasia" that is confusing you, you abject moron?

      November 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • B. Vaughan

      To: SDurham; jimboe; klr; Peter; I guess you have to be the most uneducated people on here, no where on my post did I state it was ok to put the dog down, the point and let me be clear to you since you are unable to comprehend a basic under lying statement: The point is that the SOLDIER is to blame for not following BASIC pet ownership knowledge. If it was tagged it could have been returned. That simple, if you get a pet tag it even you four might know that???

      November 16, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      B. Vaughan is absolutely right. The majority of the blame lies with the irresponsible owner.

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

      The dog escaped - it could have had a collar but escaped the collar. My dogs are registered - and both have collars. But when the Younger one escaped - she was found without a collar. She had it on - but did not when I recoverd her at the shelter. Things happen with dogs. Maybe the dog did have a collar. The owner did notify the shelter the dog was his and he would retrieve the dog. The dog was not scheduled to be put to sleep – It was the employee total lack of intelligence that killed the dog. The employee pulled a dog from the cage not marked for the needle.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Oh, let me feign outrage over euthanizing pets because one of them was famous, and then let me get back to turning a complete blind eye to the millions of pet euthanizations we do every year.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. SDurham

    This is so sad and disgraceful. This happens all the time at animal shelter's all across this country and it's inexcusable. This employee should have the crap kicked out of them.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • B. Vaughan

      The employee should be or the soldier? Remember the dog saved the soldier, the soldier did nothing to prevent the same for the dog... Look at the big picture and not be so uneducated......

      November 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • DAvid

      According to news reports – the owner Tried to pick up the dog on Friday but the shelter was closed for the weekend - He notified the shelter that it was his dog – and when he went to pick up the dog on Monday – she was already put down. No shelter puts a dog down after three days. And who is to say the dog did not have a collar - in the pictures on the news she did have a collar. I lost a dog once and she had a collar – but when she found in the shelter – she did not have it on. Things happen - but the employee is to blame completely - The owner tried to retrieve the dog – first possible day. To attack the owner is simply wrong.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
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