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Despite desperate pleas from the Romero family and nearly 400,000 signatures on a change.org petition, government authorities in Madrid have euthanized the pet dog of a Spanish nurse that contracted the Ebola virus.
Teresa Romero Ramos became the first person worldwide to contract the deadly virus outside of Africa. Teresa, 44, was part of a team of medical professionals treating a Spanish missionary that had become infected while serving in Africa, but had been returned to Spain for treatment.
However, Romero and the entire medical staff took every precaution to avoid being exposed to the virus including incinerating the missionary’s waste and belongings and wearing hazmat suits to avoid exposure.
In an attempt to both understand how Romero contracted the virus and to prevent it from spreading through Madrid, Spanish authorities have quarantined Romero’s immediate family and are attempting to track down anyone the nurse may have been in contact with.
They also ordered the Romero’s dog, a 12-year old mixed-breed named Excalibur, to be euthanized.
The Centers for Disease Control have confirmed that dogs can contract the Ebola virus and, although the virus is asymptomatic and does not make dogs sick, they can become carriers, transmitting the virus to humans. They have speculated that some cases of Ebola without a clear-cut link to an infected human may have come from dogs.
After her diagnosis, Romero’s husband Javier Limón was quarantined, but not before leaving the dog contained in the family’s apartment with several weeks worth of food and water.
The Wall Street Journal reported,
Responding to an appeal by Mr. Limón, a small crowd of animal-rights activists gathered that evening for an all-night vigil outside the couple’s apartment complex on Madrid’s outskirts, trying to safeguard Excalibur. They demanded that the dog be given the benefit of the doubt and quarantined for testing.
On Wednesday police cleared a path through a blockade formed by about 50 seated protesters, enabling emergency workers to enter the building. Not long afterward, some protesters caught sight of Excalibur on Mr. Limón’s seventh-floor terrace. “He’s alive!” someone yelled, drawing cheers.
Hours later, however, as the crowd grew and police kept protesters at bay, a white van sped away with the dog. Some protesters chanted “Assassin! Assassin!” while others burst into tears.
Government officials confirmed that Excalibur was sedated before being euthanized via lethal injection. His body was then incinerated.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has said that they haven’t proven the humans can, in fact, contract Ebola from an infected dog and that no evidence currently exists that would indicate the Romero’s dog was a threat.