Gruen on Killing ‘Excalibur’

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, writes in Time about the decision in Spain to kill a dog named Excalibur, who lived with a nurse exposed to Ebola.

Neither the dog, nor the nurse’s husband, who was put under monitoring, showed any signs of the virus, writes Gruen. Moreover, experts say there is no evidence to support the notion that dogs can transmit Ebola. Gruen writes:

The right thing to do would have been to isolate Excalibur and observe him, as was done to others who had been in contact with Teresa. But Spanish authorities weren’t thinking of Excalibur’s life as valuable or of how devastating his death would be to his family. They were thinking about what was expedient.

Many consider dogs, like most animals, disposable. Animal lives are thought to be worth less than those of humans. Rather than spend money or energy isolating a dog, it was easier, Spanish authorities decided, to kill him. And given how long it took the hospital to admit Teresa, it was unlikely they were simply acting with the utmost caution when it came to Excalibur. In the U.S., more than one million dogs are euthanized each year, dogs that are inconvenient or unwanted are routinely disposed of.

The routine killing of animals diminishes not only their lives, but the toll that choosing euthanasia takes on people who live with and love animals.