Miniature Dachshund Meddles With Malicious Muskrat, Miraculously Survives

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual March Claim

Brea, Calif. (April 25, 2012) – Robert and Michele Bashore of Pittsburgh, Penn., have been VPI policyholders for the past 22 years, but in more than two decades they have never submitted a claim quite like this. After a backyard brawl with a vicious muskrat at their vacation home in Michigan, the Bashores weren’t sure whether their miniature dachshund Nathan would pull through. The courageous canine’s confrontation caused a severe bite wound dangerously close to his jugular; an incident that has earned him the title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“Around 11 p.m., my wife opened the back door to let the dogs out. As soon as she opened it, all four of our dachshunds went tearing outside, and they were all barking,” said Robert. “She quickly followed them to the corner of the yard and realized they were attacking a muskrat. Luckily, she was able to pull the dogs off and get them back in the house. When she got back inside, she saw Nathan lying on the carpet with a pool of blood collecting around him.”

Nathan had suffered a significant puncture wound on his neck, which caused him to bleed profusely. Fearful for Nathan’s survival, his owner applied pressure to the wound and rushed him to the nearest emergency animal hospital. According to Robert, the attending veterinarian didn’t think the miniature dachshund would make it. Fortunately, a surgeon on staff was able to operate on the injured vein to prevent further bleeding. Though Nathan was brought to the hospital in critical condition, the Bashores are happy to report that he has since made a full recovery.

“It’s important to remember that a wild animal attack on your pet can happen anywhere, whether you live in a remote area or on a quiet suburban street,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Take extra precaution when a pet is exposed to wildlife, especially at night.”

Nathan’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of March 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 March included a Morkie (cross between a Maltese and a Yorkshire Terrier) that ate a snow globe; an Australian shepherd that was struck by a golf cart; and a Greater Swiss Mountain dog trampled by a moose. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in March, Nathan will be in the running for the 2012 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Major the Labrador retriever who fractured several teeth when he mistook a rock for his toy during a game of fetch, and Tomis the cocker spaniel who had a whole almond surgically removed from his nose. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2012 nominees, visit

Note to editors: Digital images of Nathan 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 is the No. 1 veterinarian-recommended pet health insurance company and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies. Providing pet owners with peace of mind since 1982, the company is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers and an advocate of pet health education. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional CareGuard® coverage is available for routine care.

Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,700 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as a voluntary employee benefit. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company in Madison, Wis. 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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