• The German Shepherd began struggling to breathe in April
  • The following month, the dog tested positive for the virus
  • It died in New York on July 11

The first dog to test positive for coronavirus in the United States has died.

In an exclusive interview with National Geographic, the owners of the German Shepherd, named Buddy, said the canine started having trouble breathing right before its seventh birthday in April. The following month, Buddy tested positive for the virus. It died in New York on July 11.

Robert Mahoney, who had tested positive for COVID-19, said he thought his pet might also have the virus after the canine started breathing heavily in April. A local clinic prescribed antibiotics for the canine over the phone as Mahoney, who was COVID-19 positive, was not allowed to enter the clinic.

In the following weeks, the dog’s health deteriorated. It lost its appetite and was losing weight rapidly. The owners took the canine to three different clinics but none of them thought the canine could have the virus. An ultrasound revealed the dog’s liver and spleen had enlarged. Vets confirmed the dog had a heart murmur.

After three weeks of medications, Robert took the canine to another vet where COVID-19 tests were conducted. Days later, the test results were out and it confirmed that Buddy had tested positive. The health officials collected the samples to confirm the results. On June 2, the officials confirmed that Buddy had contracted the deadly virus. The officials told the family that the samples collected on May 15 were positive for SARS-CoV-2, but additional samples collected five days later were negative. This indicated that the virus was no longer present in Buddy’s body.

But the canine’s health began to deteriorate. He was struggling to breathe, started urinating uncontrollably and eventually, began to have trouble walking.

On July 11, Buddy was found throwing up blood in the kitchen. The canine was rushed to the vet where it had to be put down. Vets told the family that it had lymphoma, a cancer that affects the infection-fighting cells of the immune system.

Allison Mahoney, Robert’s wife, remembered Buddy as the "the love of our lives….He brought joy to everybody."

German Shepherd
In this photo, a dog is seen during the First Championship of German Shepherd Dog Breeding organized by the Association of German Shepherd Dogs of Nicaragua in Managua, Feb. 10, 2013. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images