Spain’s decision to euthanise the dog of a nurse who contracted Ebola has sparked a global outcry and clashes between police and animal rights activists after 390,000 people signed a petition urging to Government to save its life.
Officials from Madrid's regional government obtained a court order on Tuesday to put down nurse Teresa Romero’s pet Excalibur, despite uncertainty over whether the dog was also infected or risked spreading the disease to humans.
Ms Romero, 40, contracted the deadly Ebola virus in Spain after treating Spanish missionaries repatriated from West Africa.
Outrage spread rapidly on social media after Ms Romero's husband, who is being quarantined in a Madrid hospital, reached out to animal rights group via a video appeal.
He told activists: "I'm in the hospital and I'm making a call to all people to help me save my dog Excalibur because they want to kill him just like that, without following any procedure.”
About 50 furious demonstrators responded to his call by gathering outside the couple’s home in Madrid and shouting “assassins” at those taking Excalibur to be put down. Police were seen pulling away activists blocking the road as firefighters attempted to gain access to the property.
Two protesters were injured as they tried to block the van transporting Excalibur.
An online protest via Change.org gathered momentum throughout the afternoon, with over 395,000 people having signed it by the end of the day.
Activists were also camped outside the hospital attempting to pressure local authorities into saving the pet, shouting slogans such as: “Excalibur, you are not alone.”
Despite this, Madrid's regional Government announced on Wednesday evening that it had euthanised the pet, prompting an outpouring of grief on social networks.
Excalibur was "sedated beforehand to avoid suffering," Madrid's regional health agency said in a statement.
The corpse was then "put into a sealed biosecurity device and transferred for incineration at an authorised disposal facility”.
Ben Williamson, a spokesperson for PETA, said: "PETA is sad to hear that a dearly loved dog was destroyed because of the Ebola scare, even though no one can point to any evidence that dogs can transmit Ebola and efforts could have been made to quarantine him.
"The last thing that this nurse needs is to learn that a family member has been lost, even if, as we all hope, her own life is saved. We appeal for common sense and mercy to prevail if such a case arises in the future."
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