PHOTO: New Jersey Dog Has Deadly Battle With Porcupine, Gets Completely Covered in Quills

by Craig Garrett

A New Jersey family is devastated after their beloved pet dog died due to injuries from a porcupine encounter. The death of a nine-year-old dog, Chester, has left the Sussex County family mourning. A week before Chester’s death, he tangled with a porcupine that resulted in barbed quills being stuck inside and outside of his body.

Chester’s owner, Miranda DeGennaro is opening up about the experience. “They said at the animal hospital they have never seen quills that bad in their entire life,” DeGennaro told the website When Chester and the porcupine began fighting, the dog was on a deck outside the family’s home in Montague at about 2 a.m. on September 2nd, DeGennaro said. “We saw him running and barking, so we ran down the deck, but it was too late,” she recalled.

DeGennaro thinks that her dog attacked a porcupine, leaving quills on the pet’s face, chest, and abdomen. Images of Chester riddled with quills were shared on the NY Post Twitter.

What concerned veterinarians the most, however, were the quills they couldn’t see since Chester ate them during the encounter. “The quills don’t really show up in CAT scans and x-rays, the damage is what shows up,” DeGennaro explained. “You can’t even do anything to see exactly where they are, so they did the best they could. But being that he swallowed some, they just went everywhere,” she said.

Porcupine encounters with pets rarely lead to death

Rarely do dogs die in New Jersey from encounters with other wildlife, but it has happened, said Larry Hajna, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “I’ve been here for 16 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of anything like this,” Hajna explained. He urged both people and their pets to avoid wild animals. “Our general advice has been to never approach wildlife. Period.”

DeGennaro initially took her dog to a veterinarian in Newton. The vet removed 20 quills from the exterior of the animal and recommended that DeGennaro take Chester to Oradell Animal Hospital in Bergen County for surgery. “When Oradell did his surgery, they found [a quill] in his pericardium, which is the sac around your heart,” DeGennaro explained. “So, the quills were everywhere — around his heart, his lungs, his esophagus and in his digestive system.”

The issue was that the needles were relocating, and the needle nearest the dog’s heart would puncture the organ. Even after being asked for a $12,000 down payment upfront by the hospital, she said agreed to go ahead with the surgery. DeGennaro explained she didn’t have the down payment. However, the veterinary hospital agreed to perform the surgery to save the dog’s life. They assured her she would be responsible for the bill at a later date.

“He really did need the surgery and obviously we all thought he was going to live,” DeGennaro elaborated. “It was really important for him to get the surgery.” DeGennaro said Chester, who lived with her and her family since he was a puppy, died during the surgery on Saturday. Now DeGennaro is unsure how she’ll pay the veterinary bill of more than $19,500, as she works as a housekeeper.