Excalibur, the dog belonging to a Spanish nurse infected with Ebola, was euthanized Wednesday by authorities despite a global social media campaign to prevent its death. The 12-year-old mixed-breed pooch was put down following a court order from officials seeking to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Madrid Department of Health in a statement said it "complied this afternoon with the resolution that called for the euthanasia of the dog belonging to the patient diagnosed with Ebola. The animal was sedated beforehand to avoid suffering."
Dozens of animal lovers clashed with police outside the house of Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, who on Monday became the first person infected outside of West Africa after caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month. While at least one major study suggests dogs can be infected with Ebola without having symptoms, whether or how likely they are to spread the virus to humans is less clear.
Excalibur’s plight drew worldwide attention, with more than one-third of a million people signing a petition to keep the dog in quarantine instead. Twitter was flooded with pictures of pets with the hashtag #SalvemosaExcalibur, Spanish for “Let’s Save Excalibur.” Ramos’ husband, Javier Limon, appealed for public help, telling reporters by telephone that the dog’s death was unnecessary.
"I think it's possible" that dogs might spread Ebola, but it's not likely in the U.S. or other places where dogs aren't near corpses or eating infected animals, said Sharon Curtis Granskog, a spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association.
— Alastair Jamieson and F. Brinley Bruton