Nina Pham, the first person to contract Ebola in the United States, was cleared of the deadly virus on Oct. 24. But the 26-year-old Dallas-area nurse received some even bigger news on Saturday: Pham's dog, Bentley, was also free of Ebola and done with his own 21-day quarantine. As expected, a tearful yet joyous reunion followed, and it's one that could instantly thaw the hearts of cynics everywhere.
Bentley, an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was quarantined following Pham's diagnosis in early October. An employee of Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas, Pham contracted the virus while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who succumbed to the disease on Oct. 8.
While Pham was being treated at the National Institutes of Health's hospital in Maryland, Bentley was isolated at a vacant residence, where was looked after by staff members of the Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center. Much like humans who are quarantined, Bentley underwent testing and was regularly monitored for symptoms of Ebola. Fortunately for Bentley — and Pham — he tested negatively for the virus and completed his 21-day quarantine on Saturday.
However, Bentley wasn't immediately returned to Pham; he had to say goodbye to the staff at the Dallas animal center, of course. Judging by the photos and videos posted to the center's Facebook page, it wasn't easy.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday morning, a smiling Pham told reporters:
After I was diagnosed with Ebola, I didn't know what would happen to Bentley and if he would have the virus. I was frightened that I might not know what happened to my best friend.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also expressed his relief over Bentley's healthy prognosis:
Bentley is alive and well in the city of Dallas. There were a lot of human beings that spent a lot of time making sure this dog was safe.
If you're not already reaching for a Kleenex, here's an unedited video of Pham's and Bentley's reunion, courtesy of Dallas Animal Center and Adoption Services. Prepare to feel a little bit warmer on this chilly November weekend.
Images: Dallas Animal Center and Adoption Services/Facebook