A dog named Target, who not only survived the war in Afghanistan but also saved soldiers from a suicide bomber, was taken home by her soldier owner to Arizona – only to be killed in the Pinal County pound.

War hero dog Target was mistakenly euthanized in Arizona/Photo courtesy AZ Republic

A Pinal County Animal Care and Control employee euthanized the wrong dog Nov. 15, says a county news release. The employee was placed on paid administrative leave.

Some solace.

Target, a female shepherd mix who gained national recognition and was even featured on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” was one of three dogs credited with saving the lives of several soldiers, including that of Sgt. Terry Young, The Arizona Republic notes.

Young bonded with the dog – for obvious reasons – and was able to bring her to his home in San Tan Valley in August, where she became part of the family that includes Young’s wife and three children.

All was dandy until the morning of Nov. 12, when Young saw the backyard gate was open and the war-hero dog was gone. She had neither tags nor a microchip. Reports did not note if she had been wearing her usual pink camouflage bandanna.

Young called local media and sent out his own online announcements in a bid to find his missing dog. Target was eventually located at Pinal County pound’s Casa Grande location, where she was taken after a man found her and called animal control.

“She’s in the pound. At least she’s safe,” Young told the Republic.

“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” the release quotes animal control Director Ruth Stalter. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.”

Young also told the Republic his 4-year-old daughter is having an incredibly hard time with Target’s death. “She’s saying we need to get the poison out of her so she can come home. She can’t grasp the idea that she’s gone.”

Definitely a reminder to keep our pets contained, tagged, microchipped and under close watch at home where they’ll get love and protection – not a deadly needle.

UPDATE 11/23:

Update from Pinal County: Animal Care & Control Employee Terminated

FLORENCE – A Pinal County Animal Care & Control employee was terminated today following an investigation into the accidental euthanasia of a dog on Monday. Pinal County launched an investigation on Monday, on the same day that the dog was euthanized. The dog in question was “Target,” a street dog from Afghanistan who became a lifesaving hero when she thwarted an attack by a suicide bomber. She was later brought to the US by volunteers and private donors to live in San Tan Valley with a soldier’s family.

“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

Pinal County is declining to name the individual due to threats made against the employee in online article comments and in telephone calls to the county.


What do you think?

Should the dog’s owner sue?

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made at work?

Has your pet ever gotten away? What happened?