War Hero Dog Target Accidentally Euthanized in AZ Shelter

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A heroic and heartwarming story took a tragic turn after a dog that saved a soldier and inspired dog lovers the world over was accidentally euthanized. Target was featured on Oprah recently and hailed as a hero after saving US soldiers from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

Recent news reports celebrated her arrival in the US – she was returning to live with one of the soldiers she saved.

Unfortunately, Pinal County Animal Care received a call Friday about a stray shepherd-mix in the San Tan Valley area, and ended up picking up Target, bringing her back to the shelter. The dog was not licensed, tagged or microchipped.

Monday morning, a shelter employee removed Target from her kennel and euthanized her by mistake. “I am heartsick over this,” Pinal County Animal Care Director Ruth Stalter says. “I had to personally deliver the news to the dog’s owner and he and his family are understandably distraught.”

An investigation of the incident is underway. Target’s creamated remains will be returned to her owner, Sgt. Terry Young.

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53 thoughts on “War Hero Dog Target Accidentally Euthanized in AZ Shelter”

    • Very tragic. Every dog owners dog gets loose sometimes. That’s why it’s the owners RESPONSIBILITY to have his dogs chipped and tagged. No excuses. I’m saddened and angry that Terry Young failed miserably to do basic fundamental procedures to help insure his dog’s return for such an event as this. Both the shelter and the owner are at fault.

      • Mario,
        You’re absolutely right. It sickens me to no end, and you couldn’t have explained it better. A dog is not an accessory, it’s a member of the family. This could have all been foresaken if Target’s red collar had a license on it. Unbelieveable ignorance. And, the shelter…a dog gets brought in over the weekend and is expired by Monday?! They have a lot of operational procedures to follow up on and fix. It never should have happened and makes us in Arizona look like idiots in terms of animal care and control!

  1. This is simply mind-boggling to me, the notion of “ACCIDENTALLY’ euthanizing another living creature, “Oh, OOPS, my bad!”. SERIOUSLY??

    Anyway, just sad, sad, sad – my heart goes out to the family. <3

  2. This should have never happened. How many other animals has this happened to at this shelter, that could of had homes, or even been adopted soon after arrival? this should be investigated.

    • Debbie,
      I completely agree! Our city has a 7 day hold! What if that had been some little girl or boy’s dog! That idjet should be fired! And the entire shelter needs to be investigated!

    • They should feel equally as terrible for every dog they euthanize. Many wonderful dogs are sadly brought through their doors and rather than working with their community toward a no-kill option – which is viable EVERYWHERE – they take the easy way out. Does a dog need to be a war hero for them to feel bad about their horrendous practices???

  3. My sentiments exactly! How terrible!

    What if another family was looking for the ‘stray’? They would have never had enough time to find her, as the shelter obviously doesn’t do enough to give the animals in their “care” a second chance and the time to find owners or a forever home.

    So, so sad.

    • Most Southern shelters only have to hold for 24-48 hours and most only have room to hold that long. Owner surrenders are euthenized teh same day. This dog was picked up on a Friday and euthenized Monday and therefore was held the correct about of time. I feel terrible for Target and his family but I’m also going to ask the hard question…Why was he running the streets alone?

      • No matter how careful you are, unfortunately dogs do sometimes get out. It happens Bethany, gardeners forget to latch the gate, the gas meter reader forgets to close the gate, you just never know. What happened at that shelter was wreckless and tragic. I feel terrible for this family. Poor Target must have been so confused and scared. It just breaks my heart.

        • This whole thing makes me sick, the person who didn’t follow regulations at the shelter and “mistakenly” euthanized the wrong dog should have consequences for sure and why the neighbors didn’t check around before taking him to the shelter….
          What a tragedy being a dog lover myself.

  4. While I agree 100% with making sure our kids have tags and microchips, my question is What was the BIG hurry to put this dog down? So they couldnt immediately ID the dog. Im sure that when she was lost her people were frantically looking for her. This is not a “one time” mistake and this shelter needs to be held accountable and correct an obvious policy that is in place

  5. People –
    The article says Target was euthanized BY MISTAKE. It says nothing about this being routine procedure – someone opened the wrong kennel, got the dates wrong, made a wrong I.D. – it was a MISTAKE, NOT PROCEDURE.
    This is a heartbreaking tragedy, but it’s not fair to dump more guilt on the shelter. Shelter workers are good people doing a thankless job.

    • Also it states that he was euthanized on Monday morning, it does not state when the dog came into custody. I agree something very sad happened here, BUT I think there are a few details missing out of this story.

      • Actually, it suggests the dog was complained about and brought in Friday.

        It’s obvious from the description this dog was friendly and most of all *cared-for*, so making a “mistake” like that is pretty unforgivable, in my mind. A responsible person would see the state of the animal and double-check a “kill order”.


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