This is sad in so many ways.

A family in Sussex County is heartbroken and living without their beloved dog who died after tangling with a porcupine in Montague.

It happened in the middle of the night when the dog sprang from the back deck and the porcupine left dozens of its barbed quills in the 9-year-old dog’s body.

Both outside and inside.

Chester was rushed to a veterinarian who removed some 20 of these quills from his face and chest and abdomen. But there were more inside, having pierced through into close proximity of vital organs. That vet had the dog rushed to a surgical veterinarian.

The family was told just the deposit alone would be $12,000. They didn’t have it. The practice agreed it could be owed later and went ahead with the surgery.

It didn’t work. The dog died from its injuries and the final vet bill was $19,500. The grieving family has no idea how they’re going to pay this debt.

Now a family friend has launched a GoFundMe page to help. At the time I’m writing this they raised a few thousand but nowhere near the full amount.

What a shame.

As veterinary medicine has advanced over the years, more pet owners have found themselves in the position of making hard choices that can truly test the phrase “member of the family.”

While money is never thought about if a child is fighting for their life is it fair to judge a family who might think twice about spending the same for an animal? Cures and surgeries often fail and fail for a species we always outlive.

The dog in the Sussex County incident was a pit bull mix. Pit bulls tend to live 12 to maybe 14 years. This dog was 9. Nearly $20,000 is a lot to ask to keep a dog going for possibly only thirty-six more months.

When it fails and the dog dies, part of you wants to say the owners shouldn’t have to pay. But that’s emotion talking. Veterinarians are running a medical practice, which is a business. And no one forces a pet owner into these choices.

Dare I say with treatments running tens of thousands of dollars perhaps veterinary medicine is overreaching? Just because such advances can be made, should they be? Is the short life of a dog really worth $40,000 or $50,000 dollars?

As much as we love these members of lesser species they’re still that, lesser species. Anthropomorphism is cute and fun until it comes with such a price tag that your human child might suddenly not be able to attend college.

Check out these 50 fascinating facts about dogs:

RANKED: Here Are the 63 Smartest Dog Breeds

Does your loyal pup's breed make the list? Read on to see if you'll be bragging to the neighbors about your dog's intellectual prowess the next time you take your fur baby out for a walk. Don't worry: Even if your dog's breed doesn't land on the list, that doesn't mean he's not a good boy--some traits simply can't be measured.

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