November 19th, 2010
07:55 PM ET

Animal shelter employee who euthanized hero dog fired

Target saved U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan

An Arizona animal shelter employee was fired Friday after an investigation into the accidental euthanization this week of a hero dog from Afghanistan, the Pinal County Animal Control and Care said.

The dog, Target, was brought to the United States from Afghanistan after she alerted soldiers to a suicide bomber in February, saving dozens of lives. She went missing last Friday from the home of Army Sgt. Terry Young, who was among those saved from the bomb.

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.

The employee was placed on administrative leave on Monday, accused of not following proper procedure in the euthanasia process. An investigation began that led to the employee's dismissal today, the shelter said.

“We are continuing to look into management practices and procedures at Animal Care & Control to ensure that something like this cannot happen again,” said Lisa Garcia, Assistant County Manager for Health & Human Services.

A press release from Pinal County noted that it would not name the employee "due to threats made against the employee in online article comments and in telephone calls to the county."

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, and she was featured by CNN for heroism.

"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.