A bulldog in Oklahoma recently learned just how prickly a porcupine can be, ending up with a face full of needle-like quills and starring in a photograph that has tugged at the heartstrings of dog-lovers around the country.

The 3-year-old bulldog, named Bella, is recovering at her home in the Oklahoma City suburb of Blanchard after being treated at the Norman Animal Emergency Center. (The accompanying images went viral on the facility’s Facebook page.)

Doctors say she was stuck with about 500 quills in her face, mouth, body and feet. Though most of the quills were removed, some remain embedded in her body. The surgery lasted two hours.

The incident occurred last week and on Thursday Bella was released to the care of her owners, Jerry and Allison Noles. She remains under close supervision.

“It was devastating,” Allison Noles told Oklahoma’s News 9. “These animals are our kids and when you see them hurt you can’t imagine the intense pain she had to be in. It affected our whole family.”

Dr. Leonardo Baez labeled this the worst dog-meets-porcupine incident he had ever heard of and was was surprised that it occurred within city limits.

“I’ve seen some greyhounds and bird dogs come [in contact] with them, but it’s not very often it happens, especially here in the city.”

The Noles have a backyard pond and said it has become a gathering place for wildlife because of the drought and hot weather.

Porcupines, which are rodents, release their sharp quills as a defense mechanism against possible predators. The quills are easily detached when touched.

Bella isn’t the only Norman-area dog go have gotten too close to one recently. After Bella was discharged, a terrier was administered to by the same team of doctors.

It might be wise for Oklahoma City residents to keep dogs inside until the heat wave subsides.

— Images are courtesy of the Norman Animal Emergency Center

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