Labrador Retriever Left Feeling Sheepish After “Chance” Encounter with Neighbor’s Goat

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects July's Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (Aug. 22, 2012) – As Curtis Engle of Clovis, Calif., was coaxing his neighbor’s escaped goats back to their pen, Chance, his curious Labrador retriever walked up for a closer look at the livestock. Before Curtis knew it, Chance was broadsided by one of the exuberant goats and sent crashing into the pen’s fencing. The incident landed the four-year-old Lab in the veterinarian’s office and also earned him the title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“Chance came walking by at the wrong time,” explained Curtis. “Goats like to head butt and Chance was smacked in the rib cage by one of the goats and fell into the fencing. Chance yelped but looked no worse for wear other than perhaps feeling a bit embarrassed.”

It wasn’t until a few days later that Curtis noticed Chance was walking with a limp and licking his foot. Upon inspection, Curtis determined that Chance’s foot had become inflamed after getting snagged on the fencing when he was struck by the goat. The next day, the veterinarian examined Chance’s foot and provided an antibiotic and fungicide to clear up a fungal/bacterial infection at the base of his toenail.

Even though the Engle residence is bordered by goats and other livestock, this was the first incident between Chance and any of the nearby animals. “There are goats in the area but we never see them on our property,” said Curtis. “We were worried about Chance after he was hit, but we don’t blame the goats. Goats head butt each other all of the time, it’s what they do.”

“Pet owners should always be aware of the potential dangers in their pet’s environment,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “While interacting with other animals, it is common and natural for some dog breeds, even herding dogs, to not know to be cautious around livestock. As Chance’s claim illustrates, altercations with other animals can result in a wide variety of injuries that may not be immediately apparent.”

Although Chance recovered quickly from the goat incident, Curtis recognizes the importance of having pet insurance, should a more serious accident or illness arise. “Veterinary bills can be expensive,” said Curtis. “Veterinary Pet Insurance allows Chance to have the best treatment and helps reduce my expenses.”

Chance’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of July by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in July included an Australian shepherd named Stitch that swallowed a sewing needle; a Great Pyrenees that was bit by a groundhog; and a golden retriever who had to take a trip to the veterinarian after eating a sweater. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in July, Chance is the first of the 2013 Hambone Award nominees, for which voting will take place in September of next year. Voting for the 2012 Hambone Award, which includes nominees from July 2011 to June 2012, will open to the public on September 12, 2012 at The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia.

Stories and pictures of the Hambone Award nominees are at

Note to editors: Digital images of Chance are available upon request. Send requests to

About VPI Hambone Award

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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