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”

  1. I just dont know what to say. raising German Shepherds my self & rescuing them
    this has me at a loss for words. God Speed my friend . This worker should be fired sent to school to be taught how to read

  2. I agree with Teri. We need to find a different way than euthanizing unwanted animals. However to avoid this I’m certain that laws about dog ownership and care will have to become much more stringent.

    This incident was an accident and I’m sure that the person who did it is devastated. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be to have to perform this task many times a week on unwanted dogs and cats. It must take a toll and make you hardened in your heart. I could not do it.

  3. Guys, she got out of her yard. It could easily happen to any one of us, and has happened to me. Let’s not blame the Young family, they are in enough pain. She was mistakenly euthanized when another dog was supposed to be. A chip would not have prevented this, since she was supposed to not be killed. She went missing Friday, and the Young family was there Monday to get her, since the shelter was closed. If procedures had been followed, she would have been there waiting for them and it would be a scare, but somebody got careless. Go to the Puppy Rescue Mission facebook page for more details.

    This is a tragedy, but could have easily been one of us. My new rescues are not chipped yet, and lost their tags. Like Target, they wear collars but I have been lax. It is easy to do. And yesterday, they got scared by the tree trimmer and I lost them for 5 hours. After finding them, I came home and read about Target.

    • They should have called to make sure shelter wasn’t open instead of letting poor dog sit there; how stupid can you get.

  4. Ok, I was furious when I read your lead in to the story. I thought, “how incompetent you have to be……” Then I read ‘Pinal County’ and I thought “no it couldn’t be” so I read on and saw ‘San Tan Valley’ and thought, “oh my God, that is where I live!!!!! That is our animal control.” How could this happen! This is the third time in a year that I read the headline “animal euthanized by mistake.” I do not understand how a mistake like this could happen. There just isn’t any excuse for this. Why are they euthanizing over a weekend (Monday morning before public hours) when people can not even come to see if their lost pet has been picked up. We have to begin to support and push for a “no kill nation.” It is possible and we have to fight for it. I live in this county and as an insider I want you to know that the three men that sit in judgment of our animal control laws here do not support animal ownership. Sounds crazy, right? Well, just to let everyone know, when these three bozos (the board of supervisors) were appointed they proceeded to rewrite the control laws without notifying people with current kennel licenses (rescue groups) and raised the fees that had been in place for the last several decades from $75 annually to $450!!! Rescue groups operate on a very tight budget. A 600% increase in kennel fees is completely unjustified and euthanizing this dog is just another inexcusable action by this county department. Carrie is absolutely right. This could happen to anyone of us. Just knowing your dog is missing is stressful enough. But, not to be able to go to the shelter and look for your dog over the weekend and then find they have euthanized your dog when you had no access to the facility. That is wrong on so many levels.

    • The taxpayers of your County need to take a stand. This is unacceptable. You the taxpayers can make a change. You have to be the voice for the voiceless. Don’t let the politicians get away with “Business as Usual” How many more animals need to die in your County?

      I’m taking a stand in my County, my County lost 575 animals, they just disappeared into thin air….That’s Sonoma County, beautiful wine country, but someone had to make a stand, well someone has to be brave enough in your County. Who will do it in Pinal County? Who will be the voice for the animals? Who will be the voice for No Kill Nation?

  5. It’s really wrong,a dog thats saves lives, only gets four days . We keep people, who takes lives, in jails for years. Something is really wrong with this picture, and sorry not going to cut it. My heart go out for , THE HERO, Target and her family.


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