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. Target's l;ast thoughts

    :"Please don't kill me, I love you"

    November 16, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • VECOE69


      November 16, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steggun

    How tragic! The dog was a hero for saving lives overseas and it ends up in the U.S. euthanized? Shame on the family for not licensing the dog with the town/county. If this family even cared at all, they would have at least put a collar on the dog. And shame on the animal shelter for hiring incompetent people. Stupidity all around.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. VECOE69


    November 16, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      The error was an irresponsible owner.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    This is Bob Barker reminding you to get your incompetent workers spayed or neutered.......

    November 16, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      I've always thought this would be the reasonable solution for wife beaters, child abusers and machos of all ilk (my eyes turn east).

      November 16, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. RUSH

    I hope the tech stayed with the poor dog while he caused the animals heart to stop and looked into his eyes as it all ended and I hope that person remembers this mistake for as long as they live.

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

      Unfortunately I'm sure it was just a routine for him. He didn't know anything about this dog, anymore than all the other animals he puts down as part of his job!

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

      I hope the owner realizes that he should have registered and micro-chipped his dog and that he should have gotten his dog invisible fence trained.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. annsrum

    Hopefully this will inspire everyone to support your local no-kill shelter.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rose

    This seems parallel to how some of our human war veterans have been treated. As a pet owner I understand how things happen. We have a fenced yard yet our dog Angel was able to escape. He was able to pull his tether out of the ground and go under the fence (that had rocks at the base). We were fortunate enough to recover our pet the next morning. People just need to have more respect for life in general.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. MrsFizzy

    This is tragic. But those of you who are saddened or outraged, just think – thousands of dogs are euthanized every day just because no one wants them, and we have no idea what their potential might be. If you are ready to bring a dog into your home (AND be a responsible owner), give a shelter dog a chance!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. mike

    Placed on administrative leave? They should be fired, If you dont do your job as the rules state, then you should be fired. Yes the owners should have done more on their part, but there is no excuse for the worker not doing their job right.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      He didn't technically break any rules. The shelter supervisor is scapegoating him, because they public already thinks he is the bad guy because of his job, to cover up for the mistakes made by many in this situation.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      Don't blame the shelter for a myriad of mistakes by the owner: not registering his dog, not micro-chipping his dog, losing his dog in the first place, not contacting pounds and shelters.

      The reason why this dog died was an irresponsible owner.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. BOB

    only in arizona could this happen. It totally breaks my heart that this happened.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. Michaelb

    I have an idea. How about the "shelter" work with rescue groups in the area so NO dogs are killed. It has worked everywhere it is tried. The "shelters" kill dogs because they get paid to kill dogs. The greatest threat to a dog's life is a "shelter". Want to know more? go to nokilladvocacycenter dot org

    November 16, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      That's all well and good but there are more dogs in pounds, shelters, and with rescue groups than there are potential adopters. The real problem is that many pet owners refuse to spay and neuter their pets.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tom Watson

    This is so sad. But it makes me so mad that some idiot would just decide to euthanize a dog not even on a list. This dog was obviously well taken care of and someone's pet. The employee should be fired and prosecuted for felony animal cruelty.

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

      Blame the procedure the management and the old azzholes in the community...seriously they suck the life off this planet

      November 16, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jack

    Microchips are useless if the shelter doesn't have the right scanner or shelter workers are too stupid to use the scanner properly. And most shelter workers don't love animals- not the guys in the back cleaning kennels and handling the remains of the dead dogs. Counties typically get parollee types for those jobs, and they like killing animals, not taking care of them.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • killem dead

      Alot of times we don't don't scan sht, for many reasons

      November 16, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. Theoneindependent

    All of you, calling each other names. Disrespect seems to be the norm anymore. Regardless of fault, it is such a shame that a dog that saved american lives had its life end in such a way. Reminds me of how we treat our returning vets of all wars. It seems in most areas, we have lost our way. We seem to forget the value and necessity that all things are in our lives. Shame really. Truely, enough fault to go around and here we are trying to find it and calling each other Idiots instead of recognizing the true loss of the life of this animal.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Dog

      It's a shame that you put an American life above the rest. I hope your dog gets euthanized too.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      The shelter had no way of knowing the dog was rescued by the military. The fault for this lies solely with the owner. The shelter was just doing its job. If it truly was a mistake to euthanize this dog on that particular day, it would probably have been euthanized sooner or later if the owner didn't do what he should have done in the first place.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dog

    "There's no killing this dog for sure. She's pretty much been through it all, "


    November 16, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Dog

      I know I'm a phag ... and my email address has been comprimised

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