R.I.P. Excalibur: Despite Protests, Madrid Officials Euthanize Ebola Patient’s Dog

JAN. 25, 2015 UPDATE: Although Excalibur can never be replaced, Teresa and her husband have adopted a new dog, a 6-month-old American Staffordshire Terrier named Alma, from a local rescue center.

excalibur dog of ebola patient killedExcalibur, the 12-year-old dog belonging to Ebola patient Teresa Romero Ramos of Madrid, was euthanized this morning, according to a New York Times report.

Along with hundreds of thousands of protesters, Ramos’ husband, Javier Limon Romero, had urged officials not to kill the dog, but rather to quarantine him instead.

Yesterday, authorities from Madrid’s regional government stated that “available scientific knowledge indicates there’s a risk the dog could transmit the deadly virus to humans,” according to the Associated Press (AP).

However, there have been no documented cases of dogs with Ebola transmitting it to people, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesman Thomas Skinner told the New York Times.

On the Facebook page for animal-welfare group Villa Pepa Protective Association, Romero had requested their help in saving his dog’s life.

“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,” Romero wrote, as translated by Mashable.com. “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.”

ebola patient's dog to be euthanized in spainA Change.org petition urging the government not to euthanize Excalibur had more than 387,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

“If this woman were to die, the dog which has accompanied them for so many years would be an important emotional support for her husband,” wrote Carmen Sanchez Montañes of Sevilla, Spain, who created the petition. “This is not ‘just’ a dog; for this couple, he is one of the family.”

Protesters and animal-rights activists, many of whom brought their own pets, surrounded the home of Ramos and Romero today, unsuccessfully trying to block officials from entering and euthanizing Excalibur.

Ramos, a nursing assistant, was treating a patient in Madrid when she became the first person outside of West Africa to become infected with Ebola. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 370 health workers in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“There’s prudence and then there’s, ‘Let’s kill it so we don’t have to think about it,'” wrote Dr. Scott Weese, of the Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, in the Worms & Germs Blog. “The Spanish response to Ebola in a nursing assistant is a demonstration of the latter.”

Like so many others, Dr. Weese supported quarantining Excalibur.

“Why not take the opportunity to quarantine and test the dog to see if it was infected?” he wrote. “That would be better for the dog, for its owners and for the next time the situation occurs. You can’t answer all the questions with one dog, but you can start to gather information. Euthanasia is the easiest approach and the one that removes all risk, but there are ways to house and monitor a dog for a few weeks with no contact. Since Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with infectious body fluids, it’s containable with good facilities and precautions. To me, that would have been a better approach from many aspects.”

CDC spokesman Skinner told the New York Times the center recommends that Ebola patients with dogs or cats should “’evaluate the animal’s risk of exposure” — seeing if the pet ingested bodily fluids from the patient, such as vomit, feces or blood. If so, the pet should be monitored for 21 days, which is the incubation period for Ebola.

Madrid authorities stated yesterday that Excalibur would be “euthanized in a way to avoid suffering and using bio-security measures that it did not specify. Its body will later be incinerated.”

Photos via Facebook

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!