Nov 16, 2010 5:48 PM by Elaine Sheridan
Target lived through a war in Afghanistan and an attack by a suicide bomber, but she couldn't survive a brief stay at an Arizona animal shelter.
After spending a weekend at the shelter the Shepard-mix was accidentally euthanized before her owners could pick her up. That employee is now on administrative leave.
"When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow," said Ruth Stalter, Director of the Animal Care and Control in Pinal County. "Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures."
Sgt. Terry Young, the owner of the dog, told The Arizona Republic, "I just can't believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog."
Target and two other dogs, Rufus and Sasha, were mutts who befriended soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, who began to feed them and treated the canines as pets on the military base.
One night in February a suicide bomber came to the base in the middle of the night, wearing 25 pounds of explosives and intent on killing soldiers but the dogs foiled his plans. They barked at and bit the bomber, waking the sleeping soldiers in the process. Deterred, the terrorist detonated himself outside instead of coming in, potentially saving the lives of 50 soldiers.
One of the dogs, Sasha was killed, but Target and Rufus lived. Sgt Young said the dogs were treated like royalty from then on at the base at Dand Patan, near the Pakistan border.
With the help of aid groups, Sgt Young brought Target to the San Tan Valley area south-east of Phoenix in August, when he returned home from his tour of duty. Rufus went to live with another soldier in Georgia.
Target became a star and was even featured on 'Oprah' in September in a show about amazing animals.
But on Friday of last week the dog escaped from the family's backyard. A neighbor found Target wandering later that day and put her in his backyard and called the shelter. The dog did not have a microchip or tag.
Sgt Young immediately put out notices and contacted TV stations that did reports on the missing dog.
Later that night he saw a picture of Target on the shelter's website, but thought the shelter was closed for the weekend, so he waited until Monday to pick up Target. When he got there he was told that they dog had accidentally been put to sleep.
County officials say the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen Monday morning and euthanized it.
"My four-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," a teary Sgt Young told a TV station.
The family will get the dog's cremated remains.