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Dogs learn lesson: porcupines always win

Northwest Guardian

Published: 12:34PM January 7th, 2016

It was Dec. 1 when Emily Silva was innocently checking her Facebook page and saw updates about people reportedly seeing Siberian husky dogs running around the Yelm area. Worried that it could be one of her three huskies, she went home to check.

Sure enough, they were gone.

Emily’s husband Matt, who is in the Army Reserve at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said it looked like they knocked over one of their outdoor fence boards, went into their neighbors backyard, who also had a board missing, and escaped.

“I think they saw that as their opening, and they go out and do what huskies do,” Matt said.

From that point on, the couple drove around, searching for their dogs.

The next day, someone posted on Facebook that two huskies were found sitting at the end of a railroad bridge in Yelm with porcupine quills in their faces.

“There were over 800 shares of the picture of my two female huskies (Kita, 5 years old, and Onya, 1 year old) with the porcupine quills, Emily said. “Within an hour of the man finding and posting that picture, we were contacted and went out to meet him and get our dogs.”

Two of the dogs were recovered, but their male husky, Niko, was still missing.

“People kept following the story and sharing it on various Yelm and JBLM Facebook group pages because they knew we were still missing one husky,” Emily said.

Finally, on Dec. 3, Matt and Emily received a call from JBLM’s Pet Brigade — the only dog and cat boarding facility on JBLM.

“They called and asked ‘Are you missing a husky?’” Emily said. “The (employees) asked questions to make sure we were the owners. (When) they asked does he have one blue and one brown eye, I knew it was Niko.”

Emily said she thought it was amazing that the Pet Brigade also followed the Facebook updates on their dogs, and that’s how employees knew to contact them.

“They were nothing but friendly, and I’m so glad they called us first before calling the pound,” Emily said. “They made an effort and look on social media for missing dogs. They were lovely people and took really good care of him before we picked him up.”

Porcupine wounds

Emily and Matt’s veterinarian said all three of their dogs must have come into contact with a porcupine somewhere in the woods.

Porcupines live in many parts of North America, Africa and South America — and in Washington state. Primary habitats are in forests and brushy wetlands, according to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

One porcupine can have 30,000 quills; each quill is tipped with microscopic barbs or hooks that drive them deeper into the flesh.

All three huskies had porcupine wounds.

“Onya had the worst out of all three of them and had to be put completely under to remove the quills,” Emily said. “Many (quills) had broken off in some areas and were completely embedded under the skin. She also developed a cyst.”

Emily said unless someone is well-versed in removing porcupine quills, it’s best to take the animal to a veterinarian immediately.

“Regardless if you can take them out, the animal will still need antibiotics,” she said.

From this experience, both Matt and Emily said they learned a lot about the community they live in.

“I’m so grateful (for) how the community came together,” Emily said. “And my advice to those who are missing a pet or anyone who finds an animal (is) to post on every local Facebook group they can and ask people to spread the word.”

Matt agreed and said it was “pretty insane to see how many times our post got shared.”

“It was really cool to see communities come together on a social-media level,” Matt said. “That’s the only way we found our two female huskies, and the Pet Brigade knew about Niko.”

Emily said she and Matt plan to reinforce the backyard. They are in the process of putting up cattle wire fencing in case the boards come out again.

“I don’t think they will escape anytime soon,” she said. “I’ve never had such an easy transition with making dogs indoor dogs, they seem perfectly fine with it right now.”