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. ANN R


    November 16, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sad In Austin, TX

    First, I am saddened that what probably would have been an adoptable animal was euthanized. That is always sad.

    This is not the first time a beloved pet has accidentally been euthanized. I don't believe it will be the last. Just as in hospitals and other human medical facilities, where the checks are even more thorough, mistakes, even tragic ones, occur. The only reason this one is even noticed is that this animal had notoriety and so this became "newsworthy".

    I currently volunteer in a shelter. I cannot speak for all shelters, but I have not been to any where the staff or volunteers showed anything but decency and care for the animals in their charge.

    As for the staff member who euthanized this dog, my heart goes out to you. I don't know you or what is in your mind or heart. I can only look at this from the point of view of my experience with other shelter workers and they have all been honorable people. I feel compassion for you as I can feel some of the hatred that has been expressed here. Unless you did this out of some malicious action, you do not deserve to have such hatred directed at you.

    As for the family who lost your pet to this tragedy, my heart goes out to you as well. While none of my pets have ever been deemed a hero, they all have been quite loved and adored. To have your pet die naturally is sad enough. To have to make the decision to euthanize an ailing pet is more agonizing. To have a loved one disappear and then be taken from you permanently is also agonizing. Like the death of any family member, this will take time.

    There are things that we all can do. Support your shelters. Help to make sure that they have the funding to provide the space they require to house all the pets that come to the shelter, funding to provide the food these pets need each day, and funding for the medical attention they may need.

    Lastly, volunteer at a shelter, or even just visit. Make sure these animals get the love to sustain them until they find their forever homes.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      Great post, Austin....

      November 29, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. leukram

    It seems like both sides made some mistakes. Too bad for the dog. What I notice more is the rush to judgment by everyone. "Men will hate each other even unto death." Seems like that is where everything is headed. If people can be this hateful and divided over a story like this, I hate to see how bad it will get when more important hardships befall us.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. RodRoderick

    no good deed goes unpunished... rest in peaces fido!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. kohethanolic

    If only we could understand dog :-(...I am sure the poor fellow scorched his throat yelling "God damn it, you got the wrong guy"

    November 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ross

    kinda weird... you get shot, ran over, and people are trying to kill you left and right until one day it finally happens because of a mistake. i feel for the pooch and the family, thats a string of bad luck for sure.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tamars

    Tragic. The person who did this should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, forced to resign so s/he is NOT eligible for unemployment.

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

      The person who did this should be shipped to Afghanistan to be shot at by unruly Afghans for a couple of days....

      November 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm | 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 the owner's 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 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. H Hill

    The real problem here is that millions of ignorant or uncaring people are breeding dogs for cash and contributing to the outrageous number of pets in the United States. Every time one of these puppies is sold, it takes the life of a dog that could have been adopted from the shelter. Until back yard breeders are banned and people learn that pets are a lifelong commitment and not something you take to the shelter because you're moving, or you had a baby, or you can't afford your pet deposit, we'll continue to have overcrowding in shelters and they will have to euthanize dogs and cats. The situation in animal shelters is that they are cleaning up other people's idiotic messes. Stop making these messes and the shelters won't be overcrowded and no one will get euthanized. Damn shame about Target, but this stuff happens when you have 10-30 new animals a day coming in and have to make room for them.

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

      You dog huggers don't realize that not everyone wants some abused shelter mutt and it's behaviuor problems as a family pet. Maybe fido has a anger or p|ssing problem, maybe he doesn't ...mayne he was abuse, maybe he wasn't.... why take the chance on inheriting a problem. Some of us prefer to raise a new puppy with a clean slate... less chance of headaches happening.

      Deal with it. Not everyone cares about dog rescue.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      joenyc: You sir are the moron's moron.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • joenyc

      GT66 – you may think so – based on one post.

      But i've got some news for you. It doesn't matter that you think so. You can't change my thinking unless you come up with rational counterpoints and address my concerns directly.

      All you're doing is name calling... and if that's all you've got then you need to re-evaluate who the moron really is here.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      Joenyc: Your opinion on the nature of shelter dogs is all too common and 100% false in most cases of shelter animals. You are part of the problem. I've adopted several shelter pets in my lifetime and never had a pet that came with the behavioral issues you describe – certainly not anything that pets raised from puppyhood couldn't also have. Lack of loyality and commitment on the human's part is the only reason most animals end up in shelters. Please educate yourself and stop spreading lies about innocent animals that are killed everyday at shelters through no fault of their own – and through no fault of the poor shelter workers who have to do the sad task – solving the problems that society has made.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      @joenyc GT66 got it right the first time "Joe". Having read all of your comments here, I've concluded
      that yoy are, indeed a moron's moron!

      November 16, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      joenyc – you criticize someone for calling names, yet that is exactly what you did with your "dog hugger" comment. Perhaps deep inside you envy the fact that dogs get more hugs than you do?

      November 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • alusmc

      Joynyc...this has nothing to do about your feelings or shelters in general. An innocent dog got wasted. A dog that saved lives. I am a 20 year Marine that served in Vietnam. What have you done for your country??? Why not understand what this story is all about you pompous ass??? This is not about pets that can't live a productive life anymore. My dogs give me unconditional love you jerk!! My personal email is Bring it on!!!

      November 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pat


    November 16, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      In case you haven't noticed, the good ole USofA has been working overtime to build bombs, bullets and even better ways to euthanize humans. We can't do it all by ourselves though.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • militarymom

      Does that include you?

      November 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tami Fabian

      my thoughts exactly. dogs are far better than any human being. it sickens me this poor dog was killed because of some human moron idiot.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. blazer

    unfair punishment for the worker. Stupid dog ran off and it was unlicensed.

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

      Um, it's not the dog that's stupid. Go back to school and get your GED loser.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      Exactly. Obviously this "foreign" dog had no respect for this country's geographical boundaries and its rules and regulations visa vie proper licensing and staying in the yard and being a good doggy. Just because it couldn't read and write our language and had no income doesn't mean it should be allowed to ignore the law. As any bureaucrat parrot will gladly squawk, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse!'

      November 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRod

      The man was just doing his job (the idiot who talked to the owners on the phone did not mark the dog's kennel card with a HOLD notice, so the euthanasia tech just thought he was doing his job in destroying an unwanted stray whose hold time was over) and people want to b1tch about it, but you don't see these same people lining up to rescue animals from shelters and put that guy out of work for good.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sean

    Very sad story, R.I.P Target
    for everyone who has posted a mean post you have No Compassion, remember what goes around comes around. You have shown your True colors as a bunch of Jerks. Good job everyone.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. PARROT


    November 16, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandonj


      November 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      Shame on you.

      November 17, 2010 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. April

    If this dog had a MICROCHIP put in this would NEVER have happened.
    If you love your dogs CHIP them!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • joenyc

      And one day soon it will be "If you love your kids chp them". "And while we're at it, we're going to chip the parent's too".

      The plan is probably on Janet's desk, underneath the order for manditory strip searches at the airport.

      Oh, just you wait and see. Zeig Heil!!!

      November 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      @joenyc Zieg heil?!??? You're even more of a moron than I thought it possible to be!
      Can you find your ass! If you can reach in and pull your head out...

      November 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Actually, if the dog did have a chip, it still could have happened. After all, the worker grabbed the "wrong dog", its doubtful the worker scanned or searched the dog for a chip.

      November 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dee

    Absolutely a horrible story for dog excuse for this,,none!Very sad story!

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

    THIS IS THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING I HAVE EVER HEARD. This IDIOT shoudl be shot, run over and then euthanized himself!! MY GOD what is wrong with people?? He can say he's 'SORRY" all he wants- it won't bring this PRECIOUS ANGEL back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What in the world would have ever even made him think for ONE SINGLE SECOND that this baby was supposed to be euthanized???????????????? I have never been more outraged over an animal ABUSE issue IN MY LIFE. GOD I wish I could find out who this guy is and be able to talk to him myself. A TOTAL AND COMPLETE HORROR OF A HUMAN is what he is.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      SHUTUP!!!! The owner is also at fault. 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. The owner is to blame more than anyone else!!!

      November 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You are a whack job.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      That sounds normal. Take no responsibility for your actions and blame someone else.

      That makes perfect sense....

      November 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • stellazz

      i agree totally with you, but people are forgetting the NEIGHBOR who turned the dog in !! that person should also feel guilty as hell! you wanna know that neighbor is useless too, and no doubt knew exactly where target lived !! that would be the first person who should be charged with a crime !!!

      November 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
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