—Except, that is, when it comes to handling the dog. Bentley, the beloved pet of Nurse Nina Pham (who thankfully is now apparently well), has been cared for with compassion, a compassion directed not merely at the dog but at the health care workers everywhere who have to show up and potentially face the threat of Ebola in their jobs, a threat which (despite all the knowing talk about it by countless experts and wannabee experts) still contains plenty of uncertainties.
(The phrase “dog’s dinner” is a quaint one from the British Isles, where I spent some formative years; it’s a way of describing a hopeless mess. The teacher might observe, for instance, that you’d made “a dog’s dinner” out of the copybook containing your homework, right before administering some spontaneous corporal punishment.)
The only things yours truly has written about this Ebola issue were centered on the handling of the dogs (beginning with the quick killing of a health care worker’s dog in Madrid) but that is not because I believe dogs are more important than people, or even indeed that their lives are of equal value, morally speaking, to those of humans. I don’t believe those things, even though I think of dogs as being perhaps uniquely empathetic and lovable animal companions, and even if I love my own dog beyond measuring. Ebola is a tragedy for human beings; at this point it is most dramatically so for those in West Africa, where thousands are dead, many thousands more are mourning for their lost loved ones, and entire communities and societies are either breaking down or at very real threat of collapse due to the damage and stress of this epidemic. Continue reading U.S. Ebola Response Resembles a Dog’s Dinner