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. annsrum

    All dogs should be microchipped, tagged, and licensed (if the area requires it). Even if you have a tag and a license, the collar can break or get ripped off or something. No matter how vigilant you are there are still little moments where a dog can accidentally get loose. However, I would think most people would contact the local shelters to report them missing. Although if the employee doesn't check for the microchip you could end up with a mistake there too. Which is why it would still be better if people spayed and neutered their pets and these types of shelters didn't exist.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bernardo Gui

    My APBT, "Tyson" got out of our yard in Arlington, VA on 10-19-08.
    He was not wearing his collar and was "gone" for 75 days.
    My wife and I offered a 1,000 reward for the return of our dog.
    Our house was no longer a home, we just wanted out dog back.
    We were heartbroken, we were devistated, we were sick with grief.
    1-17-09, our dog was found in Dale City, VA. by Prince William Animal Control.
    Our dog was found on a Friday. He would have been killed on Tuesday.
    Our dog was adopted from Arlington Animal Shelter. He was fixed and micro-chiped.
    When I saw my dog after 75 days, I feel to my knees and cried & my dog remembered me.....
    The only thing that saved my dogs life was a micro-chip.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cody

    Absolutely disgusting. Words can't describe.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    The job is to kill dogs; it's a dog, the employee killed it. Probably kills the wrong dog all day long, but who can go to court to prove the sherrif wrong? Nobody. Once the dog reaches the pound, it can be killed for any reason. Only morality stands in the way. When in doubt, just kill it, I guess.

    Dogs are responsible for a large part of who we are and how we got here. They have been our village protectors and hunting partners for hundreds of thousands of years. Now they cant even be on the beach. Nice way to reward your friends for a hundred thousand years of faithful service.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      A pet is only as good as its owner is responsible.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    Ahhhh well it sucks but its not the end of the world. The dog did its duty.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jack

    Very Sadly, this happens every day in shelters and Hospitals too ! Misktakes all around here. The dog was not scheduled for euthanasia, according to the story, so the employee erred Big Time. But the owner didn't license, collar, or chip the dog either. If he had, this probably would not have happened. Probably why he is so distraught knowing that he could have surely prevented this. And Target would now be home playing with the owner's 4 year old son ! A costly teachable moment for all pet owners.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. jerri

    for your information BRod if you read articial dog went missing friday was picked up friday. most shelters i know are not open weekends. dog was euthenized monday morning. That is 2 days sweetheart.

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

      The shelter referred to in this story is open on Saturdays, for your information.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. janine

    It is such a shame that the owner didn't take the few minutes to microchip and tag the dog. I have three mutts, no hero dogs here, but they were important enough for me to put them in the car, drive to the shelter and GET CHIPS & TAGS!! It doesn't take away from the neglience of the employee, but come on, as an owner take some responsibilty for your pets!!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. Heather

    My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. That poor little girl risked so much to save people, and this is how she was rewarded. I can only hope that she have some very good times before meeting this fate. I do hope this serves as a lesson to everyone that they should have tags on their pets. Sadly, what happened in this shelter is all too common. Many times shelter workers are minimum wage earning individuals who see it as a job and are able to distance themselves from the fact that they are killing innocent animals (notice the time period they held her before killing her). At the same time, shelters are very crowded everywhere, so please adopt instead of buying your next pet!

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

      The pet owners are 50% to blame. The dog wasn't registered, wasn't microchipped and apparently didn't even have a collar and tag. LAZY. Why go to all that work bringing a dog from overseas if you won't spend $25 on a microchip?

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

      I personally know the veterans daughter. Her and her family tried looking for the dog, and were going to go at the shelter, but did not under the impression the shelter was closed. So if you blame the owner you might want to think twice. Not to mention the dog usually has a collar on. If you watch the interview with Oprah u might have noticed. And dogs get out. Its just they don't usually get mistakenly euthanised. My opinion is that the shelter and employee who euthanised the dog is 100% to blame.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      As has been said by the non-judgmental writers, this is a tragic, tragic situation that illustrates the need for things to be done differently on a variety of fronts. It is not my place (or anyone else's) to pass judgment on the family-who knows why this dog didn't have tags or a chip. Surely they are suffering enough just to have done so much to save this dog for this to happen. But she was saved and was reunited. I wish for them it would have lasted a lot longer and that people would fix their animals so shelters didn't have to be overcrowded. In addition, let's stop getting companion animals through breeders and adopt those wonderful cats and dogs in the shelters. Finally, I pray that this family will find comfort. This will be my prayer.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      Dear Heather, I totally agree with your post. Thank you for weighing in. (I also just commented on this tragic situation.) May the family be able to process their grief knowing that they did a great thing bringing Target out of Afghanistan.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • DEE61

      What kind of person would just arribitrarally take the life of another defenceless living creature without knowing beyond all reasonable doubt that his/her actions were absolutly the last option. The animal was appearently healthy happy and no more than lost. It`s a shame we as a people have lost sight of miracle and wonder and value of life. How have we become so indifferent as a people?

      November 16, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      I disagree. Who cares if they looked for the dog. The dog did not have a collar and did not have a license. If you are not going to do that at least get the chip. Now, the dog should not have been put to sleep but the owner is also at fault.

      Take CARE of your animals and this would not happen.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Reds

      This is heartbreaking. I lost my dog of 13 years 6 weeks ago. Two weeks later I adopted a dog from a no-kill shelter in NJ. THEY had brought the dog up from GA from a place called Dogs on Death Row. I've had 3 dogs who lived 17 years, 16 years and 13 years. They are just like family.

      Please FIRE the worker who killed Target. The shelter should give a comparable dog FREE to the owners.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      Probably one of those PETA hippies who would rather see the dog killed then "enslaved" by people.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caitlin

      Reds: I have to say, "The shelter should give a comparable dog FREE to the owners," has got to be one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever heard. You can't just replace something or someone special in another person's life. This dog saved that man. Getting a new puppy will not have the same meaning. about insensitive.

      I'll agree that the owner should've taken the proper measures to insuring that his dog would be easily located but at the same time, that employee shouldn't have broken procedure. And just to add, I don't know what the Army is doing in Afghanistan but my little brother is a Marine, recently returned home due to a shot to the face. He's still not exactly the same. He's jumpy, constantly looking over his shoulder, uncomfortable in crowes and whatnot. Is too much to ask the people on here blaming the owner to consider that he may have had more pressing issues on his mind? I'm just saying, respect the men and women that fight for your rights and freedom.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anders O

      This dog which we called "mama Dog" was on my cop in afghanistan, as we were the company that replaced the guys from arizona, I just want to say this was an awesome dog, would always sit in front of the chow hall waitin for scraps, i think that the man that killed this dog is 100% to blame, every job you can imagine comes with procedures and steps to assure everything goes down according to regulations. Mcdonalds, wal mart , and the army all have regulations, and depending on the severity of how bad you mess up, you are punished for your "unwillingness" to take the extra time and assure your doing the right thing. I believe the mistake of misplacing your dog, and searching hard to find it, doesnt compare to taking the life of animal who saved more lives then the man who put him down will ever save. This dog is truly a hero and nothing in the world could compensate for the loss off a dog who saved your life. Just as when a soldier saves your ass in combat, you will be friends forever.

      November 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Tags do not always stay on. ALso, my dog has had 2 microchips that dissapeared. They belive they came out or are hidden under her shoulder blade. So- have an open mind!!

      November 16, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindie

      I'm just not sure how you accidently euthanize an animal. Even the smallest of shelters have policies about how long an animal will be in the shelter safe prior to euthanization. My guess is that this dog wasn't even given that time. At the very least the employee should be terminated. This sounds so much like the stuff Peta pulls and gets away with because they have lawyers on staff. I just don't have a lot of patience when it comes to people that are quick to take a life.

      November 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sharon

    This is the saddest thing I have heard today, I feel for those folks. shouldn't have happened!!!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Imran

      Maurice, really? Feeling sorrow for a dog means that you do not have sympathy towards situations concerning people? People with low intelligence often have a hard time realizing that feeling one emotion does not preclude a person from feeling another. The truth is that this is a sad story and the person you chose to criticize was merely expressing their feelings. It has nothing to do with dying children or choosing animals above people or any other tragedy. Dont read so far into the statements written and try to grasp the sentiment. What does it matter if that person says it was the saddest thing they read today? The simple minded think in black and white, there are no shades of grey.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Maurice appears to be the one who is prematurely quick to judge others...instead of insulting others, why don't you consider the fact that perhaps it IS the saddest story she heard today? She may not have heard/read any or many other stories today, you don't know that she has read a cholera story today? One who resorts to calling others names, like "idiot", gives a great indication of either mental and/or emotional instability in him or herself. This is why I like dogs better than some people, they never, ever insult you.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randa

      this is what happens when you let uneducated people be independent and act on their own without supervision. It was hard enough for this soldier to say good bye and watch his fellow soldiers die in action, but through the ignorance of one idividual he is once again saying good bye to someone who not only saved his life but that he deeply loved. Ignorance is amazing but this is just plain stupidity!!!

      November 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      Yes quite sad. Folks, Microchip your pet so this nonsense doesn't happen to you. Amazon has the kit for under 16 bucks.

      November 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mic

      The vet should be euthanized. What an idiot. People so stupid don't deserve to participate in society.

      November 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Target is another unwilling casualty of this nasty War. This is an atrocities to the valor of all whom have served. To take in the dog that has warned of danger, that saved countless life’s, and to have it thoughtlessly DESTROYED, is unmentionable! Dogs are smarter then Apes! It took 15 years and a notable collage to figure that out. At the very least, this hero should be awarded The Distinguished Service Cross, and be interned with such honors!

      November 20, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      For those of you whom think that the responsibility is on the owner to get the Dog chipped, let me give you some thoughts.
      I’m just going to through this at you. You have been in a combat zone for more than a year. People are trying to kill you at their earliest possible opportunity. You find an animal that saves your life, and many others life’s. You send it home, after all the red tape. This animal is still used to being on its own, wild, and finds a way to get out of your sanctuary, and I speculate that you are not home yet! Thus the dog catcher takes it to its demise. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?

      November 20, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Leif

    If someones neighbor kills their pet, they're charged with a crime. This employee should both lose their job and be charged with a crime.

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

      That's exactly what I was thinking. The individual who "accidentally" did the deed, should be euthanized!

      November 16, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Billy Madison

      The dog was not licensed or chipped. Walk a mile in the shelter worker's shoes. They get a mutt in there with no docs; there are probably a hundred dogs in there, and they need to do their job. Yes, it is tragic. Yes, the dog saved people's lives. If you saw a random dog (especially a Shepherd mix) running around your neighborhood, you would be the first to call the cops or animal control. Doesn't anybody ever make mistakes?

      November 16, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      If only police were charged with crimes when they shoot dogs during drug raids...

      November 16, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      Fine, charge the employee with a crime. The owner should be charged as WELL. If it wasn't for their negligence the dog would have not been caught. Also, if it wasn't for thier negligence again the shelter could have easily found the owner, if the dog had a license or a chip. It takes two to tango.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • stellazz

      and don't forget the neighbor who turned the dog in ! that neighbor knew exactly who that dog belonged to, you can bet on it! i totally agree with you! send 'em all down the pike !

      November 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      This should definitely be considered a crime and the shelter should be held fully accountable.

      It doesn't matter that the dog was not chipped or collared. The fact remains that you NEVER euthanize an animal until after a quarantine period - furthermore, the entire point of running a "shelter" as opposed to a "doggie disposal" facility is to test the dog's temperament and put it out for adoption. This occurs AFTER the quarantine and is supposed to persist for a reasonable amount of time.

      It's obvious that the dog was not a stray because it probably had the looks of an animal well cared-for and probably had a good temperament.

      The bottom line is that an enormous and tragic mistake was made here and someone is responsible. The employee must be held accountable, but the shelter should as well. When you make the rules for your own establishment, you don't get to point fingers at your peons and say it's all their fault.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. John birch

    Thus we in reality see how America always treats its heros. Give it a decade and there will be a statue of the pooch somehwere.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mah

    No point to this story except to ruin people's day. Take it down!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      Awww, golly gee. Did it make you sad? I'm sorrrrrry.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • NFL FAN

      Christian eh? Maybe you should attempt to live up to your name. So you want to criticize someone for being sadden by this story? You apparently have not a sympathetic bone or soul about you. I urge you to log off and go find something better to do than belittle people.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      RE : NFL FAN
      Christian eh? Maybe you should attempt to live up to your name. So you want to criticize someone for being sadden by this story?
      JEEZ! An NFL bonehead too stupid to understand that I was not belittling MAH's pain (I have had dogs all my life and was deeply saddened when one of them got run over or died of old age).
      I was making the point to her that the story was NOT only about a sad event but also about sloppy work by underpaid (and possibly uncaring) workers (where was the supervisor?) "just doing their job". With all the media coverage the family gave this story over the weekend that the dog went missing (nabbed by the dogcatcher on Fri., "mistakenly" euthanized on Mon.), that didn't leave much time for the family to save its beloved dog. LEARN HOW TO READ A TEXT.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PAL

    It is so sad she survived a hellish country that shot her and ran her over. She then comes to America for what was hoped a better life and we kill her. Good going America.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      Right on. She survived all that to be taken out by bureaucratic incompetence. This country's warped mission to hide itself behind paper and policies makes me sick.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • john doe

      i wouldn't say the 'country' shot and ran over her . . .

      November 16, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sunshine

    How sad......Mr Young fought for our country and had a helper...and now his helper has been taken away. My deepest sympathy to the Young family.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
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