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Buddy, the first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the US, has died

COVID-19 (Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)
July 30, 2020

Buddy the German Shepherd has died. He was the first pet dog in the United States to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

After months of being ill, his owners and vet made the difficult decision to euthanize him, according to an exclusive report by National Geographic. The beloved dog died July 11 in Staten Island, New York.

Buddy first exhibited symptoms of the virus in mid-April, right before his seventh birthday. He was struggling to breathe, lost weight and became increasingly lethargic. After multiple visits to three different veterinarians, heart medications, steroids and other medical interventions, Buddy was finally tested for COVID-19 on May 15.

But it wasn’t until June 2 the New York City Department of Health called the Mahoneys to tell them that their dog had indeed contracted the virus.

“You tell people that your dog was positive, and they look at you (as if you have) ten heads,” Allison Mahoney told National Geographic.

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On the morning of his death, Buddy was throwing up clotted blood in the kitchen. Vets discovered from blood work that he almost certainly had lymphoma and the family knew nothing could be done, according to the magazine.

Buddy’s family and doctors were unable to confirm if it was the lymphoma or the virus that ultimately took his life.

The guidance from veterinary groups including the American Veterinary Medical Association has largely remained the same since early June: Pets do not appear to be easily infected with the coronavirus, and no evidence has been found to suggest that animals can transmit to the disease to humans.

The US Department of Agriculture has compiled a list of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 in animal each time it is found in a new species. So far, more than two dozen animals have made the list.

“My pet was like my son,” Allison Mahoney told National Geographic. “When he was passing away in front of me, he had blood all over his paws. I cleaned him up before we drove to the vet and stayed with him in the back seat. I said, ‘I will have your voice heard, for all our furry friends. Your voice will be heard, Buddy.’”

The family’s surviving dog, Duke, tested positive for antibodies but was never sick. The Mahoneys told National Geographic they hope to pick up Buddy’s ashes this week. For more on this story, visit natgeo.com.

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© 2020 USA Today