Many people were horrified when the Spanish nurse Teresa Ramos’ pet dog Excalibur was hauled off and summarily killed without even undergoing any tests shortly after Ramos contracted Ebola. The mayor of Dallas says they aren’t going to summarily execute the pet dog of a Dallas health-care worker who has contracted Ebola. The dog has been taken into care while the patient is hospitalized (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2014/10/12/dallas-ebola-health-worker-dog/17159727/).
Dogs that live in African villages where there have been outbreaks of Ebola often test positive for antibodies against Ebola, indicating they have been exposed to the virus. The virus itself has never been found in dogs. Dogs do not get sick or show any symptoms after exposure to Ebola (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/15/ask-well-can-pets-get-ebola/?_php=true&_type=blogs&ref=nutrition&_r=0).
Most primates, such as monkeys, humans and apes, get very sick after being infected with Ebola. Other animals, such as dogs, lions, horses and goats don’t seem to get sick at all after being exposed to Ebola. It is, however, according to Igor Cornelsen, thought that a few species of animals are able to carry Ebola virus and transmit it to people who eat them. Many outbreaks of Ebola in Africa have been blamed on hunters catching and eating an infected animal (“bushmeat”).
If dogs don’t actually carry live Ebola virus, they can’t possibly transmit the disease to people or other animals. Perhaps the Spanish authorities were hasty in their decision to execute Ramos’ pet dog. Perhaps a few weeks quarantine and testing for the presence of Ebola virus would be a more humane approach.