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. Luci

    One can only hope that God makes this person's life h*ll on earth – with cancers, tumors, etc......

    November 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. William

    If I had my way, the pathetic moron who "mistakenly" euthanized this dog would be confined to a pen in that very same shelter for a weekend... then taken out of his cage and unceremoniously euthanized. At some point we have to begin cleaning out the human gene pool, which has become absolutely fetid from decades of coddling and supporting the stupid, lazy and incompetent. May as well start with this clown.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DME

    This just pushes irony to a whole new level for me.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kathy

    plenty of blame to go around the dog should had been wearing tags

    November 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AT

    Sadly there must be hundreds and maybe even thousand of cases of unreported accidental euthanization. There should be controls in place to prevent the heartaches to the families and children.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. T. X

    Sometimes I wonder. Who is the worst species, humans or animals? This story is heartbreaking but I know that animals go to Heaven.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      ATTENTION T.X. – "animals" is not a species... humans ARE animals... dogs are animals as well... you don't know the first thing about "Heaven", no matter what fairy tales your particular religion endorses.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mp

      humans.. only "animal" that kills for sport... seriously...

      November 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DKDJuniata

    Upsetting to say the least – just one of so many reasons that "no-kill" shelters needs to be throughout the country. And this wasn't a "mistake" by an employee – not following proper procedure means it was negligence.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joy

    Doggy must have run out of tricks.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mac

    I'm pretty sure a lawsuit will follow.....

    November 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pkfops

    "Jan Brewer was accidentally euthanized in Arizona on Monday."

    November 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Betsy

    Micro-chip your FREAKING pets!!!! Maintain your property!!!! Don't leave pets unattended in yards!!!!! This is heartbreaking and infuriating.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. F84U

    Target had been shot, run over, attacked, and through it all, she slept at the base of the US soldiers' tower in a war zone. She had puppies and protected them like a good mommy. Then she came to the good ole USof A and was put to death in an extermination camp. Because of a mistake people! A mistake yall!!! "There's pretty much no killing this dog...she's already been through it all..." Last famous words from her soldier. So then, someone, a useless, nothing person, a sloppy human being who had no regard for procedures, snuffed out a poor dog's life, a dog who deserved better, because of carelessness and sloppiness. Inexcusable and heartbreakingly wrong!

    November 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      F84U, You said it perfectly. This is so unbelievably tragic . . .

      November 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dover

      You left out the part about the shelter workers accomplice......THE OWNER. For not chipping and registering the dog! Not keeping it contained on their property where you can insure its safety. They are boo hooing and beside themselves, and pimping their four year old on the news to make the shelter worker look even worse for their mistake, but are not admitting their own HUGE involvement.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DavidB

    My dog was rescued from an animal shelter on the day she was scheduled for execution (euthanazia is a euphamism). She has been with me for 10 years and has been a wonderful dog and is much loved. She was tagged, registered and chipped as soon as I got her. I think all owners should do this for their animals protection. Failure to do so is neglect. Dogs picked up and placed in pounds have a very short life unless claimed. Clearly the animal shelter also has to look at its procedures that this should never happen again.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Thomas

    How could that happen – I know "only doing their job crap." Whatever, shut that place down.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom Buck

    CNN and their sponsors use a story like this (and other tragedies) to first sell you a product – before you can actually view the video. Perhaps they should preface the video by saying
    "The tragedy you're about to view is sponsored by and CNN.

    Very nice.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
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