It’s a fact that many animals can spread the Ebola virus. There are known cases of monkeys and bats spreading the deadly virus. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, no case of Ebola spreading to people from dogs has ever been documented. Yet, last week, officials in Madrid, Spain, got a court order to euthanize the pet of a Spanish nurse assistant, named Teresa Romero Ramos, who has contracted Ebola. Despite local protests and objections, the nurse’s dog, Excalibur, was killed last week. And now, there is a nurse in Texas named Nina Pham, who has also tested positive for the virus. Nina has a dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bentley, who has been moved to an undisclosed location and is under the care of Dallas Animal Services.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, when asked if dogs can get infected with the Ebola virus, their answer was: “At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola. There is limited evidence that dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.” They go on to state: “The risk of an Ebola outbreak affecting multiple people in the United States is very low. Therefore, the risk to pets is also very low, as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a person with Ebola.”
In my opinion, Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot, conveys what we should all be thinking: “Panic should not prevail and research to understand more about the Ebola virus in pets should become a priority.” I feel that health officials shouldn’t have taken a knee-jerk reaction to euthanize Excalibur and instead they would have been better served by studying him in a quarantined area since so little is known about pets and the Ebola virus.
The Huffington Post reported that Dr. Peter Cowen, a veterinarian at North Carolina State University who has advised global health experts on animal infection disease risks, thinks officials overreacted. Sharon Curtis Granskog, a spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, said that the risk that dogs might spread Ebola is very small in the U.S. or other places where dogs aren’t near corpses or eating infected animals.
Excalibur was quickly euthanized and Bentley is being quarantined in an undisclosed location. These are two vastly different approaches to similar situations. I’m curious what my Pet Chat readers think about the decisions made concerning Excalibur and Bentley. You can post your comments following this column.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
When Tyson first arrived at DAWG, he was very depressed and didn’t understand where he was or why. He is now much more vocal and loves when someone will scratch his head or rub his belly. He just wants to know he is safe and loved. He does really well on his walks with volunteers. Tyson is a male neutered 8-year-old Dalmatian. No kids, cats, or other dogs please.
To inquire about adopting a dog, visit DAWG in Santa Barbara. DAWG (Dog Adoption and Welfare Group) is a no-kill not for profit dog rescue/adoption organization located at 5480 Overpass Road in Goleta. You can view more adoptable dogs at sbdawg.org. All of the dogs have been spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, are current on their shots, and have flea/tick/mosquito protection. We ask for a minimum adoption donation of $250 for young dogs (under three years), $150 for adult dogs, and $125 for seniors (dogs 8 years old and over).
For more information on our available dogs, call (805) 681-0561, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or come by during open adoption hours, Thursday-Monday, 12 noon-5 p.m.
Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions, www.animaladoptionsolutions.com