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. kohethanolic

    Was the employee on drugs or was it hangover from the weekend? What an idiot!!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jon

    I think they should euthanize the employee that did it. That would make it fair.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Gaz

    This is a sad inditement of the times in which we live. General stupidity, ignorance and incompetance have become the benchmark for what is considered acceptable in the U.S.
    I can't help feeling that the life and death of this animal are an allegory for the reality of Afghanistan, the intent vs the execution of the war, and the general ineptidude and indifference of the American public.
    I suppose this outcome was sadly a poetic inevitabity.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mtnmedic


    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.

    Make adoption your first option!

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

      Same response I gave above:

      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 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rescuer

      Many of have adopted shelter dogs, or rescued them directly. Just like people all dogs have personality issues. But unlike people ALL DOGS are trainable. Rescued animals if they are a good personality fit (easier to tell with adults) are the loyalist companions. They are grateful, and happy to please.
      And if you are concerned and want a puppy, the last time I went to the shelter there were cages and cages of puppies waiting for a home.
      Please adopt/resuce/ spay and neuter.

      November 22, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joe M.

    Sheer incompetence. That is what this country is all about these days. Nobody cares about their job enough to actually follow procedures or do what they are supposed to. People as stupid as the person who euthanized the dog should never be allowed to work again.

    Imagine if they worked at a McDonalds? They might "accidentally" pour bleach on one of your hamburgers. Like I said, there are few jobs someone that stupid would be qualified to do. Maybe sweep sidewalks?

    November 16, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. ActivZZZ

    Why is this on CNN? its just a dog...

    November 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tami Fabian

      you are just a human, you moron. Humans are just a giant cancer on the earth, and you are a tiny cancer cell. you are nothing

      November 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Houston

      @Tami Fabian
      Let's hope ZZZ's not a cancer cell, Tami. Remember that cancer cells can replicate themselves. Let's hope that ZZZ's
      just a wart!!!

      November 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. maddawg

    VERY typical lemming.....

    and you ALL, or at least 99.999% of you, don't realize.....i'm talking about YOU!

    VERY typical lemming....

    November 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    This is an example were a lawsuit is required to impose a strong penalty on what appears to be a huge failure on a procedure that should have been highly scrutinized. How do you mistake the dog? Either the tech is completely incompetent or has a lack of compassion towards any animal. One can only hope that the retribution towards him/her is severe enough.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    They should put the employee who did this down. That'll teach him to not follow procedures!

    November 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gtbdave

    Oops. We gas millions of dog per year, doesn't seem unusual that one would be accidently gassed. The huge over-population of dogs is cruelty in itself, especially when there are things we could do to keep the population down, and make sure the owners are responsible. Dogs should have chips, and the cost of liceses should be enough to cover all community expenses related to dogs. Pit bulls should be banned, too many of them are dangerous. There should be strict ordinances, enforceable ordinances, if not possile, then dogs should be banned in urban areas. This dog should have had a chip, required in some Cities, and not that expensive. Dogs should not be allowed to run loose, or be lost, that's negligence on the part of the owner.

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

      None of my comments ever appear, then I am told when I try to put the original back in copied from my word pad that it is a duplicate. but it appears nowhere, ever that I can find, can anyone explain what happens to my comments? I cannot find them at all, anywhere. I had something to say about the sad loss of Target by stupidity, but I cannot seem to get it posted.

      November 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. Brandonj

    Administrative leave? The employee involved did not follow established procedures. Most employers terminate employees who don't follow established procedures. The employe was an idiot who was too lazy to do the job correctly. He/she should be fired without delay. There are too many folks out there looking for jobs who WILL follow established procedures. I don't know why it is, but it seems like government workers (ANY govt worker-federal, state or local) have more rights and get treated far better than those of us in the private sector who would be unceremoniously canned for this kind of stupidity. Who wants to bet this employee will get a warning and be right back at work again soon? The only thing better than a union job is a government job.

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

      If you could do it so much better, then why don't you apply for his job? The guy was euthanizing a stray whose hold time was over. He was not told that this animal was claimed. Why should he be blamed for lack of communication. Oh that's right, we need a scapegoat, and the guy who did the actual killing is easier to blame than the shelter administration trying to explain that a whole bunch of people are at fault here. They are saving face and putting it all on one guy who, regardless of what the admin says, did not break protocol and was doing his job. Anyone who has worked or volunteered at an animal control shelter can tell you that.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • mp

      BRod I am wondering why you keep saying that this dog's time was up ? Are you the worker that put the dog down or are you just assuming based on a personal experience ?? Either way, you are not correct !! Let me help you out here.. I have copied and am pasting this directly from the article... "On Monday morning, the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen and euthanized it. The dog was not scheduled for euthanasia." ok do you need this explained ?? The point is whether the employee screwed up or not... Pretty easy to understand... YES they screwed up..

      November 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lisa

    Euthanize the kennel worker! How scary that someone that stupid is allowed to have that kind of control over innocent creatures.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • joenyc

      Control of innocent creatures.. yeah. His next job is going to be ganging up on mommies with sippie cups and feeling up little kids as part of the TSA.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DrQ

    I'm sorry, but I believe the dog shelter needs to take some responsibility here. Unfortunately, in our capitalist society, we can only impose monetary fines to make a point.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lisa Levinson

    This is a tragedy, another prime example of why shelters should follow a no-kill policy. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary promotes no-kill policies. With cooperation between rescue groups, shelters, and local authorities, this goal can become a reality.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Josue

    Let's euthanize the employee then say"OOPS"! Just kidding. Serious mistake. So sad that this happened.

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