Despite protests from animal rights groups, the dog owned by a Spanish nurse diagnosed with Ebola has been put down, officials in Madrid said Wednesday. The animal will be incinerated.
The mixed-breed dog, Excalibur, had been left at Teresa Romero Ramos’ home alone by her husband, Javier Limón Romero, who is being monitored at a hospital for Ebola symptoms. Madrid health officials had informed him they had obtained a court order to euthanize the dog, sparking an outcry among animal rights activists.
“I was asked to give them my consent, but I obviously refused,” Romero wrote. “He said he was going to ask for a court order to forcibly enter my home and sacrifice Excalibur.”
The hashtag #SalvemosaExcalibur — Spanish for “Let’s Save Excalibur” — soon began trending on Twitter.
Romero says he left the dog several buckets of water and food before coming to the hospital, where he has been quarantined along with two other people who are being observed for symptoms. Twenty-two other people who came into contact with the nurse are being closely monitored, Spanish health officials said Tuesday.
The nurse had helped treat two missionaries who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were repatriated to Spain last month. Both died shortly after arriving in Madrid. The nurse began feeling ill on Sept. 30 and was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday.
Madrid’s regional government obtained a court order to euthanize their pet, saying, “available scientific knowledge suggests a risk that the mixed-breed dog could transmit the virus to humans.”
“It seems unfair,” Romero wrote. “If you are really worried about this problem, I think you can find another type of alternative solution, such as putting the dog in quarantine and observation, as it has me. Or maybe you will have to sacrifice me, just in case. But of course, with a dog, it’s easier, it doesn’t matter as much.”
According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,400 people have died and more than 7,400 been infected since the Ebola outbreak began in March.
Animal officials say it is not clear what risk the dog poses.
While no case of Ebola spreading to people from dogs has ever been documented, that risk is not out of the realm of possibility, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press.
While some dogs in West Africa have tested positive for the Ebola virus, they showed no signs of being infected, Michael San Filippo, media relations specialist for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month.
“There is more concern about fruit bats and nonhuman primates,” San Filippo said.
“If the woman survives, her heart will be broken to find that authorities have killed a beloved member of her family,” Mimi Bekhechi, U.K. director of People for the Ethical Trreatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement.