A Most Unfortunate Target

11/19/2010 04:35 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Suzy Shuster Former ABC Sports Broadcaster, CEO Hudson Productions, mother of three

Have you read the story about Target, the hero Afghani dog who saved American soldiers from a suicide bomber attack on military barracks in the border area near Pakistan? The hero dog was flown to the US for adoption by the family of Army Medic Sargent Terry Young -- only to be euthanized this week by an Pinal County, Arizona shelter because of mistaken dog identity.

It seems Target got out of his home, and was picked up by an animal control officer, who impounded the dog like any other stray. Her picture was placed online, but then some moron who clearly wasn't paying attention to her job took the wrong dog out of its pen -- Target -- and put her down. This dog survives A SUICIDE BOMBER and then is put to death by our barbaric animal "shelter" system?

What a twofold tragedy... one, that this celebrated war dog, feted by Oprah, every TV Network, who survived a war, was shown so little regard, so little respect and consideration by the worker at the Arizona facility now on "administrative leave," and two, that her adopted family failed her by letting her run loose without a collar or without a microchip inserted in the skin in her neck so that with one swipe of a wand, she could have been reunited with her family by means of a telephone call.

But what makes me ill is the continued callous behavior towards animals of all ilk in shelters and American culture beyond the wire fences. Would a nurse or hospital administrator mistakenly administer the wrong and fatal drug to a human patient? Save the occasional homicidal maniac, no. I acknowledge human error exists, but come on... how hard is it to follow protocol in an animal shelter? Lets see... here's the sheet of dogs I'm killing today. Check. Check. Check.

The director of the shelter said anyone who works at a facility such as her does the work because they love animals. Really. You love dogs so much you want to be their angel of death? Let's be honest. It's an awful economy and working in a shelter is a job with a paycheck. I have yet to see many workers in the Los Angeles shelter system show much care for the animals in their care. Thank goodness there are a few, but sadly far between souls. Love animals? Be a vet. Save lives. Put ID on your own pet. And if you do work in a shelter, have the pride and decency to check who you are killing first.

Now, I'm sure all the right-wing nutballs who reacted to my blog on the California legislation Spay and Neuter Bill by calling for my vagina to be slashed (thanks for that) will all come out and character assassinate me for my opinion laid out here, but go ahead. This time, it wasn't just any dog who wasn't cared for. It was a hero. A hero who saved the lives of our soldiers. And she at least deserved compassion, thought, and the gift of time. Just wait till its your Fido who gets out. And doesn't come home.

So, what to do? Lobby your local governments to make all shelters no-kill. But take responsibility at home. Spay or neuter your dog or cat, so our shelters don't fill at inexorable rates. Less unwanted pregnancies, less dogs and cats. And for goodness sake, put a collar on your pet, and have a microchip inserted so that instead of being accidentally murdered, your pet is looked up in the database and returned to your home, your children, your life. Doesn't man's best friends deserve that?