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Spain kills Ebola victim's dog Excalibur - sparks #SaveExcalibur Twitter storm

Spain kills Ebola victim's dog Excalibur - sparks #SaveExcalibur Twitter storm
The dog belonging to the Spanish nurse confirmed to have Ebola has been killed, despite a massive social media campaign and vigil by animal rights activists outside her flat.

The mixed-breed canine, called Excalibur, was finally put to sleep in the Complutense University of Madrid veterinary hospital on Wednesday at 14:30 local time, the Spanish daily El Mundo reports, citing sources at the university.

Sanitary authorities wearing special protective clothes forced their way into the home of Teresa Romero Ramos and her husband, Javier Limon, on Wednesday afternoon, after a judicial order from a Madrid court had granted special permission for entering the house, Spain’s EFE news agency reported.

The Madrid city government ordered the dog’s death Tuesday as a preventative measure to stop further infection.

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Excalibur had been left home alone by the couple after they were both admitted to hospital Monday.

Demonstrators with pets hold signs in support of Excalibur, the dog of the Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola, outside her apartment in Alcorcon, near Madrid, October 8, 2014 (Reuters / Sergio Perez)

The couple managed to contact friends who then got in touch with the AXLA animal association, who launched an appeal on Facebook.

The appeal read: “My name is Javier. I am the husband of Teresa, the nursing assistant infected with Ebola. I want to publicly condemn that a certain Zarco, who I think is the health chief for the Madrid region, has told me that they have to put down my dog. He has asked for my consent which I have denied. He will therefore request a judicial order to break into my house and destroy him.”

The appeal spread rapidly across the internet and by Tuesday evening more than 135,000 people had signed on online petition to #saveExcalibur.

A worker adjusts protective clothing next to an emergency veterinary services vehicle parked outside the entrance of the apartment building of the nurse who contracted Ebola, in Alcorcon, outside Madrid, October 8, 2014 (Reuters / Susana Vera)

Javier said that he had left Excalibur well supplied with food and water with the balcony door open so he could go out and “do his business,” and insisted that alternatives were available and that his pet did not need to be put down.

The dog, he wrote, could be put “in quarantine and observation, as they have done with me.”

Limon also wrote ironically: “But of course a dog is easier, it doesn’t matter as much… Are they going to put me to sleep too?”

Little is known about the ability of dogs to spread the Ebola virus. In 2005, the IRD research institute in Paris released a statement, saying that dogs “may infect and excrete the virus for a determined period, thus becoming a potential source of infection for humans.”

The Ebola crisis is causing considerable worry in Spain, after the first case of the deadly virus on their soil. However health officials in Spain insist they have the situation under control.