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Does Bentley really have a wish list?


As America’s first quarantined dog of an Ebola patient, Bentley’s fame may be spreading as fast as the deadly virus he may or may not have.

So much so that we suspect the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is receiving more attention, donations and expressions of support — at least online — than his sick human, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted the disease while caring for the first Ebola victim to be diagnosed in America.

This being America, a dog-crazy land, that wouldn’t be too surprising.

That funds are being raised in his name isn’t too surprising either.

That he already has a “wish list” set up on Amazon? That’s a little surprising.

bentleyxAs soon as Bentley was moved Monday to the undisclosed (at least initially) location he’s being quarantined and monitored in, the campaigns to raise money in his name began — ostensibly to help pay for his care, in reality for much more.

“Poor Bentley the Dog Needs You to Buy 67 Items From His Amazon Wish List,” reads the headline on a Dallas Observer blog post.

We’re sure Bentley — being a dog, as opposed to a human — isn’t as selfish and greedy as his alleged wish list makes it appear.

We’re sure he doesn’t truly need a $239 Lawn Boy lawnmower; or a Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener, in black and chrome; or a thermal label printer; or a $299 microchip reader; or a Bluetooth portable GPS navigator.

But between the news media delighting in tugging our heartstrings, and some savvy sorts at Dallas Animal Services who know a fundraising opportunity when they see one, that’s the way the story is coming across.

It started where all things start, or at least end up — on Facebook.

bentleyphamDallas Animal Services posted a picture (left)) wih a list of ways people could help support Bentley while he is in quarantine. The post pointed out that any extra donations — of paper towels, pee pads, toys and rawhide chews — would go to other dogs awaiting adoption.

It’s a pretty common practice among animal shelters — seizing upon the case of one sympathy-inducing dog to raise funds for more than just that one dog. It’s not an evil practice. It’s well-intentioned. While it may be a tad deceptive, it’s effective.

And given the total lack of foresight, knowledge and protocol when it comes to Ebola victims and their pets (we’ll talk more about this Monday), such fundraising techniques could prove highly necessary in the months and years ahead.

Bentley has served as a wake-up call — as, in a way, did Excalibur, the dog of Spain’s first Ebola patient. Excalibur was quickly destroyed, even though there’s no proof dogs can get Ebola or pass it on to humans.

While Dallas Animal Services is overseeing the care of Bentley — now sequestered at a decommissioned Naval air base nearby — the Dallas Fire Department’s Hazmat Response Team is doing the hands-on (and gloves on, and hazmat suits on) work, feeding and cleaning up after the dog.

Dallas Animal Services is continuing to keep the public posted on Bentley, mostly through its Facebook page, but its campaign to seek donations in his name apparently was toned down, if not halted, at least temporarily.

CBS in Dallas, which reported on the campaign, later reported that Dallas Animal Services has suspended its request for donations and pulled the Facebook post. Whether that’s because someone deemed it deceptive or exploitative isn’t known. No reason is given.

As for that Amazon “wish list,” it’s still up, but, just to be clear, those are items Dallas Animal Services need — not exclusively for the care of Bentley.

At the end of last week, a more formal funnel for donations helping the dogs of Ebola victims was set up. The city teamed up with Dallas Companion Animal Project, a nonprofit organization, which has created the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services fund to help pay for the care of pets affected by emergency events, including Ebola exposure.

(Photos: Dallas Animal Services)


Comment from Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
Time October 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

Ebola Virus Antibody Prevalence in Dogs and Human Risk

We observed that some dogs ate fresh remains of Ebola virus–infected dead animals brought back to the villages, and that others licked vomit from Ebola virus–infected patients. Together, these findings strongly suggest that dogs can be infected by Ebola virus, and that some pet dogs living in affected villages were infected during the 2001–2002 human Ebola virus outbreak. Wild animals, especially gorillas and chimpanzees, can also be infected by Ebola virus, but the infection is highly lethal and causes huge outbreaks and massive population declines (5,14). Other animals such as guinea pigs (15), goats (16), and horses (17) remain asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms after experimental infection, but Ebola virus infection has never been observed in these species in the wild. Thus, dogs appear to be the first animal species shown to be naturally and asymptomatically infected by Ebola virus. Asymptomatic Ebola infection in humans has also been observed during outbreaks (18) but is very rare. Although dogs can be asymptomatically infected, they may excrete infectious viral particles in urine, feces, and saliva for a short period before virus clearance, as observed experimentally in other animals. Given the frequency of contact between humans and domestic dogs, canine Ebola infection must be considered as a potential risk factor for human infection and virus spread. Human infection could occur through licking, biting, or grooming. Asymptomatically infected dogs could be a potential source of human Ebola outbreaks and of virus spread during human outbreaks, which could explain some epidemiologically unrelated human cases.

see full text ;


Comment from Miss Jan
Time October 17, 2014 at 12:21 pm

To Terry S: please remember a couple of important facts. First and most importantly it is extremely unlikely esp. at this stage of Ebola’s presence in the US that street dogs are roaming the avenues of Texas devouring corpses of Ebola victims. And, second: before you drink the NIH kool aid while at the same time reading more deeply about this disease and its transmission, remember that so very often there are two additional facets of governance which you quote so freely: one, a time-honored comment that needs no explanation: “we’re from the government and we are here to help you.” And let’s not forget: if their lips are moving, they are lying.

I am not a conspiracy theorist either by training or by inclination. I have, however, worked in the legal field for over 40 years and in my not so humble opinion this dog will not only never be reunited with his owner but will be subjected to endless, excuse-to-media, quarantine followed by long, painful, and inconclusive research. Just my opinion. But IF you actually pay attention to various media spokes-experts you will upon analysis come to realize just how much finger-pointing bases are being laid against dogs. Just sayin’: the more rumors are repeated, the more people believe them – and “belief is the enemy of truth.”

Comment from Rebecca Poling
Time October 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

We appreciate the cynicism as it keeps us honest! Thanks for talking about Bentley and letting everyone know the Wish List, which has been up for months (years), is for the 600-650 pets here and the staff that cares for them. We did add a few things for Bentley – the demand to help has been amazing. All the support has been awesome – almost overwhelming, and so far we’ve not gotten any state or county funding to help cover the costs of his care, so we appreciate the Dallas Pets fund mention as well!