Target, a female shepherd mix, belonged to Sgt. Terry Young, an Army National Guard member, but was picked up as a stray after she slipped out of his yard in the San Tan Valley area southeast of Phoenix over the weekend, the Arizona Republic said.
Target, who was once featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," was taken to the Pinal County Animal Care and Control Shelter in Case Grande.
The agency said a shelter worker mistakenly took Target out of her pen this morning instead of another dog and euthanized her, even though the dog was not scheduled to be put down.
"My 4-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," he said.
Animal Care and Control Director Ruth Stalter said the shelter employee apparently had failed to follow proper procedure. The worker has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted.
"I am heartsick over this. I had to personally deliver the news to the dog's owner and he and his family are understandably distraught," Staller said in a statement posted on the agency's website
"This is unacceptable and no family should be deprived of their companion because procedures were not followed," Stalter said. "We work hard get to strays reunited with their owners. When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow. Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures."
The agency said Target did not have a microchip and was not licensed in the county.
The dogs began barking and snapping, alerting the soldiers. Unable to get inside the barracks, the intruder -- who had 25 pounds of explosives strapped to his body -- blew himself outside. Five soldiers were wounded, but Young and his comrades said the dogs saved many lives.
Sasha was badly injured and had to be put down, but the soldiers were able to bring Rufus and Target to the United States. Target moved in with Young and his family in Arizona. Rufus went to live with Sgt. Christopher Duke in Georgia.