A dog belonging to a Spanish nursing assistant diagnosed with Ebola has been euthanized, health officials in Madrid confirmed Wednesday.
In a statement, Madrid’s Ministry of Health officials said they had euthanized Excalibur, the tawny mixed-breed belonging to Teresa Romero Ramos, who was diagnosed, and her husband, Javier Limon Romero.
The fate of the dog had been in question after the ministry announced Tuesday that it had obtained a court order allowing them enter the nursing assistant’s apartment, retrieve it, and euthanize it, out of fear that the dog might transmit the disease to humans.
Officials on Tuesday said current science indicates that although dogs may not display Ebola symptoms, there could be a risk of transmitting the virus to humans.
The dog had been living “in close and constant contact” with Romero, officials said.
“The only way to remove the existing risk of disease transmission by that route is to undertake euthanasia of the animal that has been in contact with the virus.”
The nursing assistant’s husband had reportedly launched a campaign to save his dog, pleading with the public for help in convincing officials to spare Excalibur’s life.
Speaking in a video, apparently from his isolation unit in the hospital, Limon Romero said, “I call on the public to help me save my dog, Excalibur. They want to kill him for no reason.”
The video sparked emotional pleas online to stop the euthanization effort, with pet-owners posting photos of their own dogs next to signs that read "#SalvemosaExcalibur,” or “Let’s save Excalibur.” By Wednesday morning, more than 300,000 people had signed a Change.org petition to spare the dog’s life.
Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato told reporters Monday that the nursing assistant — who helped care for two Spanish priests who tested positive for Ebola — had contracted the disease.
According to a local organization, Limon Romero issued a statement from his hospital room saying he had left out buckets of water and a bag of food for the dog before leaving. He also said he’d left the terrace door open so Excalibur could go outside as needed.
Local health officials said Excalibur was sedated before the procedure so he would not suffer and that his body will be cremated.
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