Urban porcupine vs. dog attack rare

A local dog had a rude awakening last week in his fenced back yard when a porcupine wandered in. He lived to tell the tale.

Gilligan the border collie was snoozing in the hot sun last week when he got a rude awakening in his Cranbrook backyard.

David Cavers said his dog was attacked by a porcupine in his backyard near Gyro Park on August 15, and thankfully, he lived to tell the tale.

“Our dog was just laying in the yard on a sunny afternoon,” Cavers said.

Gilligan was quickly rushed to the vet, where hundreds of quills were removed from his face, mouth, front shoulder and chest.

“The vet figures there was probably 150 to 200 quills,” Cavers said.

The attack happened at about 4 p.m. in the afternoon – an unusual time for a porcupine to be out in the first place. Fish and Wildlife staff told Cavers the animals are rarely found in city limits anymore, and they are usually active in the evenings.

“They said it was really unusual,” he said.

During the day they spend their day nestled in trees, hiding. Cavers’ son witnessed the attack, confirming it was indeed a porcupine. Conservation officials could not be reached before the Townsman’s deadline for comment, but Cavers said it is suspected the porcupine was a lone specimen.

Cavers believes the porcupine may have hopped from tree to tree and found itself inside his carefully fenced backyard.

“Our yard is fenced – it’s completely dog proof,” he said, adding that he has two dogs, and both are unable to escape the safety fencing.

Gilligan is recuperating after the attack. The vet and three technicians worked for three hours with the dog under sedation to remove the many quills, but were unable to extract all of them.

“He’s doing okay,” Cavers said. “He’s still limping around.”

Now the vet is worried about infection, and is hoping the rest of the quills will come out on their own.

“They tend to sort of work their way out,” Cavers said.

However, there were quills piercing Gilligan’s mouth that may not come out on their own. The vet told Cavers that the attack was the “second worst for the number of quills,” that they had ever seen.

Cavers said pet owners should be aware there is a porcupine somewhere within city limits, but hopes the unwanted time spent with Gilligan will encourage the rodent to take a hike.

“The chance of it coming back because it had a bad experience in our yard is unlikely.”