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. klr

    I sincerely hope and pray that the person who killed this dog dies a terrible and painfull slow death, with vomiting and diarhea.

    Because this is a person who murders animals for a living. Right dog or wrong one.

    If you are reading this murderer I hope and pray the worst for you. May all the evil and bad of the world be upon you.

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

      Wow! You sound worse than the guy who killed the dog. Until all people spay and neuter and start adopting pets from animal shelters instead of buying them, that guy's job is sadly necessary. Your hatred and psychotic statements are not.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. George

    This is no "mistake", this is pure negligence. Too difficult to pay attention to the information and another life wasted as a result.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. mark

    Dam taliban is now posing as vet workers to destroy this war hero..

    November 16, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hazel

    I think Denise is more famous than this dog..The people might as well euthanized the employee 🙂

    November 16, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sean

    Both the owner and shelter were at fault. Obviously the shelter did not follow protocol. The owener: 1: let the dog loose, 2: did not have a collar on the dog 3: did not microship the dog 4: did not go to the shlter in a timely manner to see if he was there (3 days before it happened)

    Very unfortunate, but the owenrs share very much part of the blame

    November 16, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • A dog can get loose

      B. Vaughan how do you know what the owner did. Is this the first time the dog got loose?


      November 16, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • B. Vaughan

      The reported story states: "The dog was not microchipped or licensed with the county, shelter officials said." regardless if it was the first or second time the dog got out, it was NOT licensed.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. Peter

    Geeze –

    another heartbreaking story to have to deal with.

    The employee should be terminated – immediately. NOTHING can excuse this level of incompetence.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • keith d

      Peter, to me you are quite incompetent to so hastily call for someone's job over a damn dog. The ramifications of losing a job these days is devastating. It was a terrible accident were humans played a part in both ends of this unfortunate story, but it involves an animal and a human who made a serious mistake should not be terminated without further investigation. Yes, some disciplinary action is in order, but termination? I don't think so.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. jjsmith3894

    Dogs suck. People suck. Where's the controversy?

    November 16, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      Dogs usually do not suck, unless they are pups...for the most part they tend to chew.

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

      jjsmith sounds like a lowly cat lover.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. holy roller

    I think CNN should do a story on the Denise controversy

    November 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. annsrum

    They should not be euthanizing any dogs that is just awful. Poor thing. If everyone else would spay and neuter their pets these type of shelters wouldn't be necessary. It just makes me sick to think of all the lovely dogs that get euthanized each and every day. It is sick.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Brian

    Tagged, microchipped, licensed, whatever... why the hell was a healthy dog euthanized at all? What kind of shelter is this? I live in a city of about 400,000 people, and the animal shelters have a strict non-euthanasia policy.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      Healthy dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens are euthanized daily in every city and town in this country. I live in Houston and thousands of perfectly healthy lovable animals are euthanized here daily. Nothing wrong with them at all, except that there aren't enough adopters or room in the shelter.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. Name*vicky

    This is the most absolute horrific event to happen to someone who put his life on the line to protect our freedom! And to have a dog that was saved from this soldier to be euthenized by accident is disturbing!

    November 16, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. BigD

    It's a dog, no better than any other dog. It wasn't a hero any more than any other dog is a hero. Barking doesn't equate to heroism. There are police canines everywhere that save lives daily.

    The bottom line is that the owner should have taken better care of the dog. He could have just as easily been run over on the road.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • A dog can get loose

      "owner should have taken better care"

      azzwipe stfu

      November 16, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. holy roller

    John is pee ed at all you guys right now!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. RodRoderick

    No good deed goes unpunished. Rest in peaces fido.

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

    How did this dog get picked up by animal control? She was obviously left unsupervised for an extended period of time for this to happen. Furthermore, why was she in the shelter for FOUR DAYS?? If my dog went missing you can bet I'd be visiting every animal shelter in town every day. until he was found. Sounds like irresponsible pet ownership if you ask me. Shelters generally euthanize unclaimed strays after 3 days, so while the kennel worker made a protocol mistake within the shelter, technically it wasn't wrong or illegal to kill this dog that was unclaimed for over 3 days. Horribly sad, yes, but again WHY was this so called beloved dog sitting unclaimed for four days????

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

      The dog was picked up from someone yard - who called late Friday. The dog was picked up late friday and the owner attempted to pick up the dog that friday but the shelter was closed for the weekend. Monday was the first day of opportunity the owner could have picked up the dog. It was not technically four days. And what shelter puts a dog down after a four day stay? none. If it was chipped - the story would be the same – because the employee did not follow proceedure. The dog was not scheduled - period.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
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