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When a Dallas nurse, identified yesterday as 26-year old Nina Pham, became the first person to contract the Ebola virus from within the United States, concerns were almost immediately raised concerning her dog, who may also be carrying the virus.
While Pham is currently hospitalized and receiving treatment for the life-threatening infection, Dallas Animal Services is doing everything possible to ensure her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bentley, is well cared for, both physically and mentally.
Bentley was removed from Pham’s Dallas apartment where he’d become stranded when the nurse was hospitalized. A hazmat team suited up and entered her apartment on Monday to remove Bentley. He is currently be housed at Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control say that dogs can, in fact, carry the disease, although they show no symptoms or signs of illness. While Ebola does not make dogs sick, the CDC says they can potentially pass the virus onto humans through licking, grooming, or through their urine and feces. The virus remains in the dog’s body for a short time before being cleared, after which they are no longer a threat.
To date, not a single case of Ebola in the world can be blamed on a dog.
Veterinarians will test Bentley for the Ebola virus. Until those results are confirmed, he is kept separate from any other animals. He is not being walked outside and workers are taking every precaution to prevent spread of the virus.
But, that doesn’t mean he’s being ignored or neglected while in quarantine. He’s being visited regularly by workers in protective suits, given plenty of attention.
Sana Syed, a Dallas city spokesperson, explained, “We’re not going to put him in a cage for 21 days and say, ‘Good luck.’ We’re going to do our best so that the dog is in the best mental state when he is returned to his owner.”
Syed Tweeted a photo of Bentley along with a caption that read, “Bentley is in his new temp home. He’s wagging his tail and eating dinner!” Animal Services workers also plan to text photos of Bentley to Pham’s cell phone regularly so that she can see her baby boy is doing ok.
Bentley’s stellar treatment and care is warmly welcomed around the world, particularly on the heels of Spain’s mishandling of a similar situation. Last week, Excalibur, the mixed-breed dog of a Spanish nurse infected with the virus, was taken from his home and euthanized, without any proof that he either carried the virus or that he could be a threat to others.