Teresa Romero is the first person in Spain that has recently been infected with the Ebola virus without having traveled to Africa. She contracted the deadly virus after an infected Spanish priest was flown out of Africa for treatment and Romero took care of him in a Madrid hospital. Unfortunately, Excalibur, the nurse’s dog, was euthanized today by Spanish authorities because they feared the dog could be a carrier of the disease, since the pet lived with the infected nurse.
On Monday, Romero’s husband, Javier Limon Romero, turned to social media to plea for his dog’s life. Limon Romero unfortunately became infected with the virus too and was moved to isolation, but the couple’s dog was left behind at patients’ apartment. Limon Romero left enough water and food for his four-legged family member to live on his own, yet authorities said the pet was a risk to the public’s health. Officials feared the dog could be an Ebola carrier.
Limon Romero turned to a Spanish animal protection organization, Protectora Villa Pepa, for help saving his pet’s life. He told the organization that public health officials wanted to euthanize the dog, instead of moving the pet to isolation and testing him for the deadly virus.
The following is a translation of the message Limon Romero sent the animal organization:
Before going to the hospital, I left the dog a few buckets of water, and the bathtub also with water, as well as a bag of food of 15kg so that he’d have food and water. I also left the door to the balcony open so that he can take care of his needs.
I think it’s unfair that for a mistake they made they now want to solve it this way.
A dog should not be contagious to a person and vice versa. If they are so worried with this issue I think we can find another type of alternative solutions, such as quarantining the dog and put him under observation like they did with me. Or should they sacrifice me as well just in case?
But of course, with a dog it’s easier, it doesn’t matter as much.
An online petition started to save Excalibur’s life collected more than 200,000 signatures. Animal activists camped outside the Romeros’ apartment to prevent authorities from entering the residence and killing the pet, but unfortunately, the signatures, the media attention, and the protests weren’t enough to save Excalibur.
Health officials from UCM (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) obtained a court order giving them permission to enter the apartment. On October 8, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. local (Madrid) time, officials entered the residence, secured the dog, removed him and transported him to a facility where he was euthanized.
Local veterinarians understand why officials opted to euthanize Excalibur, There is some scientific evidence suggesting that dogs can be carriers of the Ebola virus, but unlike humans, dogs can be asymptomatic and show zero signs of infections. Researchers cannot guarantee the virus would not spread via the infected pets’ bodily fluids.
Limon Romero and many other animal lovers hoped authorities opted for different measures. They wanted Excalibur moved into isolation for testing before euthanasia was even considered, but unfortunately the government decided to eradicate all possible sources of infection.
Excalibur, we regret that authorities did not see the value of your life as much as we all do. You will be greatly missed.
To learn more about Ebola in dogs go here.