UPDATE: Madrid authorities have confirmed the dog has been euthanized.
Excalibur is a 12-year-old rescue dog who currently resides in an apartment in Madrid. His owner, María Teresa Romero Ramos, is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa. In response to authorities announcing they intend to put Excalibur down, an online campaign has surfaced to save him.
Spanish citizens and others concerned for the dog’s well-being have taken to using the hashtag #SalvemosaExcalibur–which is Spanish for “#LetsSaveExcalibur”–to post photos of their own dogs in solidarity with the beleaguered pup. Authorities, according to the Daily Mail, have chosen to put the dog down as part of the sanitizing of Romero’s apartment, which will also include significant destruction of property in the hopes of keeping the Ebola virus from spreading. No scientific consensus of whether dogs can spread Ebola through contact exists, though Ebola originated in the blood of undercooked animals eaten in West Africa.
The cause has attracted a prodigious number of dog owners online, who are posting photos of their own dogs (and, on occasion, cats) with the hashtag:
— Mario (@usemario15) October 7, 2014
— Ing. David Hernandez (@DavidRHG) October 7, 2014
— Sir Francis Canker (@ured) October 7, 2014
— Princess Tatania (@PrincessTatania) October 8, 2014
— Martyna Wieczorek (@martynaw89) October 8, 2014
— Noelle Acheson (@NoelleInMadrid) October 8, 2014
The protests have not stopped at Twitter. An online petition is close to 200,000 signatures, as New York magazine reports that Romero’s husband, Javier Limón, has confirmed that, for now, Excalibur is “fine” and has enough food to last through Limón’s observation period at the hospital.
The Telegraph reports that protests have also begun outside of Romero and Limón’s apartment. The protests have even prompted some violence, as the newspaper reports a “scuffle” with police as authorities attempted to remove protesters from the entrance of the building. Spanish outlet Libertad Digital is reporting an estimate of 100 protesters blockading the entrance of Excalibur’s home. Protesters outside the home have taken to Twitter to showcase their numbers:
— Agnes Dufau (@catadicta) October 8, 2014
— skandaleras (@skandaleras) October 8, 2014
Limón himself prompted the protests with a personal message to the people of Spain posted to Youtube from his hospital room:
Hello, I am Javier, Teresa Romero’s husband. I am in the hospital and I am calling for all the population to help me save my dog, Excalibur, who they want to kill just like that, without any process. [Animal rights] associations are with us. Thank you.
Teresa Romero remains in serious condition at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, though she has spoken to Spanish media to confirm that she does not know how she contracted Ebola from a patient in isolation in the same hospital. Doctors working with that same patient, missionary Miguel García Viejo, have said they believe Romero may have touched her face with contaminated gloves during the removal process of protective equipment.