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Dog Belonging To Nurse Infected With Ebola In Dallas Will Be Kept Safe

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Officials in Dallas, Texas says that a dog belonging to a healthcare worker who recently tested positive for the Ebola virus will not be euthanized out of precaution.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told the USA Today that the discovery of a dog inside the nurse's apartment during efforts to decontaminate the area came as "a new twist," but added that there are no plans to put the animal down.

"The dog's very important to the patient and we want it to be safe," said Rawlings.

Officials say that the dog, which remains in the home, will be cared for by Dallas Animal Services. The animal's breed has not been disclosed.

The decision to spare the dog comes less than a week after health officials in Spain sparked controversy for destroying the dog of another health care worker in Madrid who had become infected with Ebola. An online petition calling for the animal to be quarantined instead of killed reached over 400,000 signatures. Although it was unclear if the pet, named Excalibur, had been exposed to the virus, the dog was euthanized as a precaution anyway.

While the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa is thought to have been spread to humans through contact with an infected bat, there have been no documented cases of the virus being transmitted by canines. One study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, however, did find that it was possible for dogs to become infected, making them "a potential source of human Ebola outbreaks and of virus spread during human outbreaks."