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. Wayne

    I was so deeply emotionally touched by this story. Why-o-why did this have to happen? Lord please hear me! WHY! I'm so sad now. FALSE! I am not sad. Dog should have had a collar. Accidents happen. And yes, they are less likely to happen if the person doing the work isn't a moron but they are minimum wage employees. Thats why the work at animal shelters. I don't think they have people beating down their doors for them to screw up more important things.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. F84U

    To @omegaraiel (twitter): You really do not want this person to work at a Taco Bell. Your chicken gordita will come back with corn and rat doo. Do you want that. Do you?

    November 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ivan

    They should have euthanized the idiot that worked there. I guess having a brain is not a requirement.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. L.P.

    Nice to see STUPID is alive and well in AZ. Unfortunately, you have to assume other people are raving idiots (like apparently this employee was)... and the dog should have been microchipped or had tags. Both my dogs have been microchipped, tattooed and have tags from the first week I got them.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nate

    It is Arizona...I guess the dog couldn't produce his "papers" quick enough..

    November 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Wonder why the article provided no details or explanation as to why the dog was not registered nor licensed ? No "dog tags" sorry to say. If the dog had been provided a collar with a dog tag / license on it....might just have helped save the dog. I sure hope this dog was not licensed because the owner was "cheap" or just lazy (?) The writer of this article might have done a little leg-work and found out why this dog was not licensed.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sjaye

    i know its mean but i can't help but laugh at the whole tragic story!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jules

      No, it's not "mean." It's sick and heartless. What a wonderful human being you must be, sjaye.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherri

      You are a moron!!!!!!

      November 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Debbie Tee

    Sometimes these things are a series of errors, like a dog being switched into another kennel due to whatever (juggling for space, kennel needing cleaning, etc.), then an order given by someone who doesn't know that the dog in kennel # whatever is NOT the dog they think it is. Even veterinarians have things like this happen (so do people hospitals!).

    Tragic mistake, for sure, but shelters are full of people coping with a LOT of animals, and killing is done so much that it is not always 'double-checked'. The No Kill Advocacy Center needs more support so that we stop killing so many animals in shelters that are supposed to be HELPING animals. As far as I know, this organization is run by a person who pioneered successful no kill shelters, and who wrote the book 'Redemption', about how to change shelters from killing places to no-kill help for this country's animals. He has also proven that his model can work in various areas, not just large urban ones. Please support this organization:

    November 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dwcsr

    A stray dog is better off if you leave it alone. That 25 or 50 dollars you pay at a shelter isn't for food and care. It for the drugs to kill the dog in 3 days if no one claims it.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pittie

    Seriously, people are this freaking stupid. They didn't even bother looking to see if the dog was missing. This story makes me sick and the person who did this should be euthanized

    November 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Donald Schoengold

    The technician obviously made a mistake. However, if the dog had been microchipped, it would not have happened. Therefore, the owners of the dog share the responsibility for this mistake. Hopefully, if they get another dog, they will microchip it as soon as they get it.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dover

      Finally someone who gets it. Thank you.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. foo bar

    Too bad we can't euthanize that a55 hat or at least sterilize him......

    November 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jen

    The poor excuse of a human who did this should be put to death!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake

      Seriously? If the dog weren't a war hero, nobody would ever know this happened. The owners are the main ones at fault here for being so negligent.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hookapooka

    Rut Row!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hannah


    And how do you lose that dog?

    November 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
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