Slobbery kisses and furry hugs were in ample supply when Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who recently beat Ebola, reunited Saturday morning in Dallas with her quarantined dog and "best friend," Bentley.
Pham, 26, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 11 after treating Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who had died of the disease at a Dallas hospital that same week. After her diagnosis, Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health's hospital in Maryland for treatment and released on Oct. 24. But her pooch was still under a 21-day quarantine for testing.
Two Ebola tests on the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came back negative. Bentley's imposed isolation finally ended Saturday, and there was only one more hurdle left for him to overcome before he could see his owner: a bath. Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center posted pictures of Bentley's scrubbing and post-bath playtime, adding that staff would miss spending time with the perky pup. Bentley looked excited to be reunited with Pham, and the nurse cried happy tears and thanked Bentley's caregivers during the reunion. “Bentley re-entering my life is another reminder of hope and encouragement for me moving forward and living my life to its fullest with my best friend at my side again,” Pham said after expressing her gratitude. “Bentley says thank you too,” she added.
There is limited evidence showing dogs can become infected with Ebola or suggesting dogs can even develop the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bentley's care will cost the city “tens of thousands of dollars,” Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, but most of the expenses will likely be covered by donations and grants. Bentley also received gifts from well-wishers from all over the country eager to help a nurse and her dog get through a rough patch.
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— Elisha Fieldstadt