Animal lovers are rallying around a Spanish dog that authorities say may carry the Ebola virus.
Healthcare officials want to euthanize Excalibur, the pet of a nurse’s aide who became the first person outside of West Africa to be infected with Ebola.
The nurse, Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, became infected after caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola in September. She is now in isolation along with her husband Javier Limon.
At least one major study indicates that dogs can be infected with Ebola without showing any symptoms. How likely they are to spread the virus to humans is unclear, NBC News reported.
Officials in Madrid secured a court order to put down Excalibur on Tuesday.
Now dozens of protesters have gathered outside the couple’s home in Spain to protect the dog. More than 334,000 people have signed a petition to save Excalibur’s life and quarantine him the same way his owners have been isolated.
Supporters have flooded Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #SalvemosaExcalibur, which is Spanish for “Let’s Save Excalibur.”
Give the dog a chance and don't just kill him!Test him & put him in quarantine! Don't make a dog pay for human mistakes #SalvemosaExcalibur— ♥Bubbls♥ (@Bubbls_LP) October 8, 2014
Sharon Curtis Granskog, a spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told NBC that while it may be possible for dogs to spread Ebola to humans, it is unlikely in the U.S. or other first-world places where dogs aren’t near corpses or eating infected animals.
Critics say it's more important to protect human life than the life of one dog.
"This is not just a dog," the petition says. "He is one of the family."
But the couple appears to have left the dog alone in the home to fend for itself during their absence.
Limon says that the dog has been alone in their apartment with a bathtub full of water and 33 pounds of dog food.
“He has the whole house to himself,” Limon told El Mundo during a telephone interview. “The door to the terrace is open so he can do his business. The animal is OK at home alone.”
Image credit: Twitter