Two huskies that were injured after encountering a porcupine in Emporium, Penn., are recovering, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
When Fred Miska and his family arrived at their Emporium vacation home after a 7-hour drive from Michigan, they were surprised to find the ailing dogs on their property.
"There were quills all over their faces. Fortunately neither had any in their eyes, but the male had them embedded in his tongue," Miska told OnStar.
The dogs had collars but no tags, so Miska checked with neighbors but couldn't find their owner. Miska knew he had to act fast because the dogs were in pain, but he had little cell phone reception and it was late, so everything in the area was closed.
Miska contacted OnStar and asked an adviser to check with the Pennsylvania State Police to see if the dogs had been reported missing. They hadn't, so Miska got directions to the closest animal hospital and drove 70 miles to a vet in State College, Penn.
It took more than three hours for veterinarians to remove the 150 barbed quills embedded in the dogs' skin, and doctors said the animals were lucky that the wounds weren't badly infected yet.
"I can't say enough about the hospital," Miska told OnStar. "They were extremely professional and caring and really took good care of the dogs. They had to put the dogs under anesthetic before they removed the quills and then gave them antibiotics."
After paying the $700 vet bill, Miska and his grandson drove the dogs back home and made them beds in the garage.
The next morning, the huskies' owner reported them missing and the animals were reunited with their family.
"The owner could not afford to pay the $700 medical bill, so we told him not to worry about it. We're dog lovers, and these animals needed help," Miska said. "I would absolutely do the same thing over again. But I couldn't have done it without OnStar. They were definitely a big help, contacting the state police, finding the animal hospital and giving us directions."
What should you do if your dog has a run-in with a porcupine?
First, minimize your pet’s movement. It’s easy for the quills to embed themselves further into the skin if your dog is moving around, especially ones in the legs and chest.
Next, take your dog to a veterinarian to have the quills removed. Typically, they’ll be removed under anesthesia and the dog can go home the same day. Severe cases may involved X-rays, ultrasounds and surgery for internally embedded quills.
Don’t attempt to remove the quills yourself. Porcupine quills break easily, and trying to remove one quill may cause others to embed themselves further into the skin.