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. mahdeealoo

    Health care facilities are scary for dog and human alike. Fire the unconscious employee. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 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 (name of advertiser here) and CNN."
    (Gotta get those advertising revenue dollars any way you can.)

    Very nice.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lynn

    heartbreaking.. I am stunned.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I'm past stunned and into enraged.
      I have a lot of buddies who were over there and a few who still are over there.
      I'm just glad that no good SOB isn't in my state, I'd be in jail now!

      November 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dover

      @Wzrd1....You sound tough......on the internet.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. William

    Things are so upside down. This poor dog gets destroyed by an imbecile (and likely Obama voter) and humanity loses a valuable being. Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are allowed to continue drawing breath and damaging American society.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • beelzebub

      In case you hadn't noticed, this is not a story about politics. Stop embarrassing your party by showing its average intelligence and how its members think. Dolt.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Beardiegal

    FYI microchips are wonderful, but not foolproof. I had my dog microchipped, and the chip registered, but the chip migrated from where it was placed to under the skin near her tail. Even when informed she had a microchip, the vets had a hard time finding it. So, though a microchip is essential, tags and license are essential, a tatoo might help, but sadly, none of these are enough to protect our friends who can't talk if we humans don't do what's right.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Guerra

    They should fire that employee. This is outrageous!

    November 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      No. The guy who is habitually late for his shift should be fired. This guy should be hung by the neck from the nearest tree.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Amy

    Oh the poor thing! What a terrible end for such a wonderful dog. It's too late for her, but I hope this article prompts any pet owner who hasn't already done so to microchip their pets. It is permanent, painless (the chip is about the size of a grain of rice and injected just under the skin between the shoulder blades), and very inexpensive (l paid about $20 for each of my dogs). If you move and your pet is lost and brought to a shelter, your old vet will get the call that your pet has been located and can contact you or your new veterinarian. Let's hope Target's sad story prevents such tragedies from happening again, and in that way her legacy as a hero will live on. RIP Target.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bingo Boy

    The real fault is with the owners of the dog.

    They did not care enough about this helpless animal to buy an inexpensive dog license/tag for it so that if it was lost it could be returned to them by the animal control people when it was picked up.

    My dogs have gotten away several times and I've always gotten them back because of the tags.

    Mistakes like this happen from time to time at the shelters due to the large number of dogs they have to handle and the inevitability of human error. Dogs like to roam-that's why dog licenses were invented.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Do you KNOW when the dog arrived here? For all any of us know, the dog arrived home two days ago.
      IF it was a month or so and no tag was gotten, the good Sergeant should have to wear a kick me hard sign for a week.
      Meanwhile, that shelter employee should be "convinced" to sign up in the Army and go to Afghanistan. Just to learn the EXACT magnitude of the idiocy of not following instructions.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • beelzebub

      @Wzrd1. The dog arrived here in July. Plenty of time to get it chipped, registered, collared, a fence built etc. Stop foaming at the mouth like the blither idiot that we know you are by reading your posts.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alan

    They should release the name of the idiot that euthanized the dog and then let Sgt. Christopher Duke fix the problem by euthanizing them. Vick did time for being an idiot and so should this clown.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sean

    This happens everyday by people who have way to much power...anyone can do this job – they can force their opinions on you, take your property (pets), have them put down and etc...sad really.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrew


    November 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. beasterdamas

    The Director should resign...A tragedy like this is unacceptable...

    November 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Someone please explain this to me.

    Animals that do no one harm are put down like WWII jews, but murderers and rapists of the worst kind get free food, shelter, cable TV, internet and a premature release back into society? And I'm the one that has go get my balls groped or step into a microwave before getting on an airplane?

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

      You're absolutely right. All dogs are innocent and deserve to be cared for and afforded comfortable lives, while the proper punishment for murderers and rapists would be brutal torture followed by agonizing death. But don't sit here and pretend you don't like getting your balls groped...

      November 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Sorry, but the only one who is allowed to squeeze my balls is my wife of 30 years. NOT the TSSA.

      November 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      @Wzrd1 – Only your wife? Really?? No Rosario Dawson? How about Carrie Underwood? Jessica Alba perchance?

      November 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Burbank

    The idiot at the shelter that didn't follow procedure and euthanised the dog should have been the one that had to call and tell the owners, not the manager! Fitting punishment for taking lazy shortcuts!

    November 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jess

    OMG how horrible!? I hope he can get one of the puppies at least!

    November 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
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