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. Keith

    I have one thing to say. Target should be layed to rest in Arlington National Cemetary. That's the least they could do for this hero.

    November 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. srbiddle

    Anyone who can on a daily basis euthanize a dog or other animal has no value for life, much less care whether or not they have chosen the right animal. It is just another days work. How could you feel good about making your living killing animals. There is no amount of money that I would accept to euthanize an animal. Wouldn't be great if we couldn't find a human being on the face of the earth to do this job. I would not allow a person who hold such a job to be near me or my family or my dog! I would spit on them.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • rescuer

      You don't feel good about it! You wish more people would Rescue / Spay / Neuter. So there would not be hundreds of people coming in weekly to abandon their faithful pet.
      People seriously give reasons like: "it does not match my carpet", I'm tired of taking care of her", "I didn't know he would get so big", "we're moving, and the dog gets carsick" .
      Unfortunately there are too many dogs to all stay at the shelter, If you want to stop the madness and killing, go to your local shelter and, volunteer, donate, take an animal home and rescue it.

      November 22, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Retired Army

    Fort those of you whom have never lost the first love of your life (a dog) you will never truly know love.

    November 20, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. American Legend

    I am very sorry about Target, because she is the one who saved the life of many soldiers in Afghanistan, but then she was accidentally euthanized in USA. But unfortunately some people who posted comments here, are taking this very seriously, even some of them wanted to stop the war against terrorism after this incident. In my opinion this is insult to all the soldiers who died in this war, because after we lost thousands of soldiers in war against terrorism, no body cared, but now they want to give MEDAL OF HONOR to a dog and end the war against terrorism. NONSENSE

    November 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. scott

    i think news outlets need to turn off the public comment functions...

    November 23, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Just a comment

    I agree that there was a degree of irrisponsibility on the owners part for not tagging or microchipping the dog. But the question is how long have they had the dog. Some people work and maybe had not had the time yet if they just got her to get tags. On another note, The dog had not been at the shelter that long and had notice from the family that the dog was missing to keep an eye out for her and they stated the dog was not schedueled to be uthinized. Just because a dog comes in with out a tag or microchipped does not give them the right to assume no one will want or miss that dog. Who is to say that a dog comes in with out a collar and tags does not mean that the dog didn't get hung up and slip the collar there for has no tags on it to identify it. So it could have family looking it just lost its identification. Not everyone micro chips there pets. I do for this reason. This dog was a hero but all dogs deserve the benifit of the doubt and should not be assumed it is an unwanted pet and put down because they need the room. (Im not saying that is what happened but I have heard so many story's of shelters getting things wrong due to over population, I know someone that informed of there missing dog took pictures to the shelter and lookd the dog was not there but did come in, the people were continualling calling and being told the dog wasn't there, went to an petco where there happened to be an adoption days going on by the shelter and there was there dog. They were made to pay the adoption fee to get there dog back even though they had prof and registration for the dog) You tell me that that stuff is right.

    November 23, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. beverly lewis

    This shelter works does not need to be lynched. S/he made a human error. Yes, they need to revamp their procedures immediately to prevent mistakes again. HOWEVER, let's put at least HALF The blame on the owner. He didn't have the dog tagged, he didnt have her micro-chipped, she didn't have a phone number written on her collar. He paid the fee and "thought" the shelter was closed on the weekend. Well, you know what they say about ASSUMING.

    My dog has 2 collars. One with a phone number written on it with Sharpie. Another collar has city, rabies tag. Plus dog is micro-chipped. If she were at the shelter, there is NO WAY I would simply assume it's OK to leave her in a loud, stinky, scary place like a shelter cage for an entire weekend.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      Touche... great post, Beverly

      November 29, 2010 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • T

      U seem to not being reading the same story that the rest of us did... U need to understand that first of all that dog was taking and put to sleep when it was another dog scheduled... Bottom line is the person that grabbed that dog in the shelter does not deserve His/hers job.. U Need to get a life, stop blaming the owner they didn't injected the dog, some idoit that shouldn't have this type of job, made the mistake and should loss there job... THAT DOG SAVED LIVES AND WAS PRICELESS.. As to the micro chip, the dog just caer back to the USA.... So get a life u idiot..

      December 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sammie

    Wake up people... over 30 dogs a DAY at the local shelter here are taken on that last walk. 1000 a month. What about all of the other good dogs who go down?
    Hopefully the last lives Target saves? Will be those who are euthanized without ever receiving the recognition that the brave dog rec'd. STOP DISCARDING YOUR ANIMALS LIKE YESTERDAY'S TRASH and this kind of thing won't happen...

    November 29, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. MacMan

    I bet the shelter worker was a Muslim from Afghanistan and decided to "finish the job" his (or her) fellow zealots failed to do.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aneres

      shut up.

      January 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cessie Chiasson

    Puppy Rescue Mission on facebook continues to fundraise for soldiers and their stray base dogs in wartorn countries. A Maine Army National Guard Unit returns from a year deployment in Afghanistan greeted by the stray dogs they befriended !! See Puppy Rescue Mission for the entire story. A Safe and Happy New Years to all our Military men and women who give so much!

    December 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Great Works.

    Next time transfer the dog to European union, Because American are way too smart to do thing like this. O yea..where is my shipment from UPS or USPS? I guess they do the same thing as they did to the dog. O will happy new year American hope next time I will not see some people get euthanize because they did not have micro chip in their dog tags. XD

    January 12, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. Re: The Simple Truth

    No man, in his sane mind, would permit the loss of any Brother in Arms. Been there; done that. To protect my Brother in danger is an assault against humanity. I would view this as an assault against the very fiber of my being. I would kill to protect my Brother in the same position... 'nuff said.

    May 7, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Re: The Simple Truth

    My respect for the educated forbids my personal feelings about the life or death of the subject matter in this issue. So, I am compelled to take a side personal feelings about the loss of a Brother. I know the animal gave its all to protect its Brothers and Sisters. These are truths that will be available to historians, at their appointed time. ~Peace~

    May 7, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Berta

    I'm running into more and more horror stories of the employees that we pay wages on at several different shelters across the country who deliberately euthanize so many dogs/cats on an over whelming scale – some even euthanize the animals as rescuers sit and wait in the lobby – when are the administrators going to start doing their job and suspending people as this one did – It's about time – so many good animals are being put down daily for little to no reason at all – They want to push the bill for animal cruelty and neglect – let's start at their front door – and start getting rid of the workers who have no business being there – just collecting a steady paycheck but is getting by with abusing and neglecting the animals we are paying him to take care of. Why is it that every system in our country seems to fail and fall short of what it was originally started for – a reflection of what our country has become – of what are government is? They keep talking about making changes – Let's Stop Talking And Start Doing! Our whole system/government is great at flapping their jaws – but not stepping up and actually or physically doing anything!

    June 14, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lili

    The poor dog! All I can think about is how she was taken out of her cage not knowing what was going on happier then ever she was gonna see her family and she was going on a walk at then she goes in a room jumps up on the table starts wagging her tail and then the needle! Who ever put her down needs to be fired, bring the family a new puppy, NEVER work with animals again and check them self

    July 3, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
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