Dozens of animal lovers protested outside the house of a Spanish nurse's aide infected with Ebola on Wednesday after authorities announced they would euthanize her dog to prevent the spread of the virus. The plight of Excalibur drew worldwide attention, with almost one-third of a million people signing a petition to save the mixed-breed pooch. Twitter was flooded with pictures of pets with the hashtag #SalvemosaExcalibur, Spanish for “Let’s Save Excalibur.”
Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, on Monday became the first person infected outside of West Africa after caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month. She is now in isolation, as is her husband, Javier Limon. Officials in Madrid secured a court order Tuesday to put down the dog. 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.
Limon appealed for help in saving Excalibur, telling El Mundo by telephone that authorities had no need to act. He said he had left the dog alone at their apartment with a bathtub full of water and 33 pounds of dog food. “He has the whole house to himself,” he told the newspaper. “The door to the terrace is open so he can do his business. The animal is OK at home alone.”
Spanish animal rights group Animal Equality called for the animal to be placed in quarantine and supporters clashed with police outside the couple's apartment in Madrid. They expressed anger at authorities’ handling of the case, according to ITV News reporter Neil Connery who said the dog's fate remained unclear early Wednesday.
"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.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.