Save Excalibur: Husband of Spanish nurse with Ebola starts online campaign to save his pet dog

Authorities in Madrid have ordered the dog, called Excalibur, to be put down

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The Independent Online

The husband of the Spanish nurse who became the first to contract the Ebola virus in Europe has started an online campaign to save the couple's dog.

Authorities in Madrid have ordered the dog, called Excalibur, to be put down, saying "available scientific information" cannot rule out it could spread the virus.

Animal welfare groups however have shared a note from Javier Limon Romero who said he was contacted by health officials who asked for his consent to put down the dog.

In the note, translated by El Pais, Mr Romero says he refused to give consent but was told a court order would be requested.

He said: "It seems unfair to me that because of their mistake, they want to solve this the quick way."

In the note Mr Romero explained how before going to the hospital he left the dog with enough food and water.

A photograph provided by Animalist Party Against Animal Abuse (PACMA) of Teresa Romero Ramos, the Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola in Europe (EPA)

He added: "A dog will not pass anything on to another person, and the same goes the other way around.

"If this problem worries them so much, I think other alternative solutions can be found, such as, for example, putting the dog in quarantine and observation, as they have done with me."

The plea has now sparked an online campaign with pet owners across the world posting pictures of their animals along with the hashtags #SalvemosaExcalibur and #SaveExcalibur.

Mr Romero was placed in quarantine after his wife, nurse Teresa Romero Ramos, became the first to contract Ebola in Europe.

Mrs Romero Ramos, who helped treat two Spanish missionaries who died after returning from Africa with Ebola, tested positive for the disease on Monday.

Four people have been admitted to hospital for observation. One of the four, another nurse, who had diarrhoea but no fever, tested negative for the virus, a Spanish health source said.

At least one major study has suggested that dogs can be infected with the virus without having symptoms. It is less clear how likely they are to spread it to people however.

Carlos Rodriguez, a Spanish veterinarian and host of a talk show about animals, said the husband had messaged him from the hospital, trying to grant him temporary custody of the mixed-breed dog.

But he said that now there is a court order, he "can't stop this happening."

The Spanish animal rights group Animal Equality has complained that authorities wanted to "sacrifice the animal without even diagnosing it or considering the possibility of placing it in quarantine."

Additional reporting by Associated Press