Frisky Feline Feeling Fine Following Garage Door Flattening

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

Brea, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2012) – Dana and Scott Carter of San Rafael, Calif., have always believed: what their seven-pound Persian cat, Ariel, lacks in size, she more than makes up for in personality. However, Ariel’s diminutive dimensions nearly cost her one of her nine lives last month as she was accidentally trapped underneath the Carter’s garage door. The terrifying incident resulted in an emergency trip to the animal hospital and earned Ariel the title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“Scott had been gardening on a Saturday afternoon and when he finished, he put the tools away and closed the garage,” explained Dana. “Within a minute or two of the garage door being closed, our neighbor called screaming for us to open it up because Ariel was trapped underneath and howling.”

Panicked, Scott quickly opened the garage door and brought Ariel inside the house where she proceeded to limp around, collapse, and limp around again. Fearing Ariel may have sustained internal bleeding or broken bones, the Carters rushed her to the animal hospital. After undergoing a series of X-rays and blood tests by the veterinarian, it was determined that Ariel had incurred damage to her liver as a result of the garage door’s pressure on her abdomen, and would need to be closely monitored overnight by the hospital staff.

The next day, the Carters received the happy news that their frisky feline was stable enough to be discharged from the hospital. In addition to feeling relieved that their cat would recover from the frightening ordeal, the Carters also felt fortunate that they opted for the Feline Select Plan from VPI when choosing medical coverage for Ariel.

“Despite the costly bill, we were able to maintain our composure knowing that we had recently signed both of our pets up for Veterinary Pet Insurance,” said Dana. “Within a week, we were extremely pleased to receive a check from VPI, which provided a significant reimbursement.”

Concerned that the sensor on their garage door didn’t prevent the accident from occurring, the Carters ran a few tests following Ariel’s injury. They found that the sensor was set to detect objects that are at least two feet off the ground, which enabled the door to come down and crush their petite but courageous cat. The other details of the unfortunate incident remain unanswered.

“We still don’t know how she got trapped underneath the garage door,” revealed Dana. “Our best guess is that Ariel was sitting under one of the cars in the garage and at the last second decided to make a break for it and run into the front yard. What we do know is that our beautiful, sweet Ariel is fully recovered and we’re all relieved she has eight lives left.”

“Ariel’s incident with the garage door shows the importance of being prepared for the unexpected when it comes to our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Although it’s impossible for pet owners to monitor their pets at all times, steps should be taken to try to prevent even the rarest of accidents from occurring both inside and outside the home.”

Ariel’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of August 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 August included a poodle that was attacked by a deer; a Rhodesian ridgeback that ingested 15 socks, a towel and pieces of plastic; and a cocker spaniel that had a biscuit lodged in his trachea. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in August, Ariel is the second of the 2013 Hambone Award nominees, for which voting will take place in September of next year. 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.

Digital images of Ariel 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

Contact Us



P.O. Box 2344
Brea, CA 92822-2344