Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heroic War Dog 'Accidentally' Killed at Arizona Shelter

In July of this year, seven dogs made their way from Afghanistan to the United States. Target and Rufus were two of three dogs who stopped a suicide bomber from completing his mission at an American base in Afghanistan. The third dog, Sasha, perished in the bombing but saved the lives of countless humans and other dogs.

Target survived a war, a suicide bomber, and a long airplane ride to the states. She survived a pregnancy and  even survived Oprah!

But she couldn't survive our animal shelter system.

On November 11th, Target got out of her yard. She was friendly and a neighbor was able to put her in her own backyard until the Pinal animal control agency could pick her up.

Her guardian, Sgt. Terry Young, upon noticing his dog missing, immediately contacted the media agencies and scoured the "lost dog" section of the Pinal animal control shelter. He thought, hey, my dog's safe! She's at the shelter and they wouldn't dream of killing a dog over the weekend.

But they would!

Young believed the shelter was closed for the weekend, so he planned on picking up Target Monday.

She was dead, though, a victim of a shelter system gone wrong. The shelter employee "accidentally" killed the wrong dog. I'm sure the "right" dog is totally stoked about this turn of events.

First, this is not euthanasia. Unless the other dog, who was supposed to be killed, is irremediably sick, neither dog should be dead. Let's call a spade a spade, people. Taking the lives of healthy, treatable dogs and cats is killing them, not euthanasia. That's not harsh, it's not mean, it's recognizing there is a difference between euthanasia (a good death to relieve egregious suffering) and killing an animal (which may be "necessary" for reasons other than medical but still isn't euthanasia, in my book).

Second, the problem is not so much that the wrong dog was killed as that any healthy dog is killed. Target was a healthy dog. Even if this was not an error and Young was on vacation in the wilderness for more than six days, there would be no rational reason for killing Target. She was not behaviorally unsound, so far as all reports indicate (she could be handled by an unknown stranger, animal control and was used to a variety of different people in Afghanistan). Why was she even considered for death when her behavior, even ignoring any special cards on her kennel, indicate she was a nice dog.

Let's keep striving towards a world that doesn't kill dogs or cats because they're feral or have treatable illnesses or minor behavioral problems or because they look a certain way. This is another example of what is wrong with our current shelter system.

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