Clovis dog butted by goat could be strangest pet insurance claim

The Fresno BeeOctober 1, 2013 

Chance, a Labrador retriever that lives in Clovis, has been nominated for Veterinary Pet Insurance's Hambone Award for the most unusual or funny way a pet ends up needing medical care.


A Clovis dog has been nominated as part of the most unusual pet insurance claim of the year.

Chance, a Labrador retriever, was head-butted by a goat and knocked into a wire fence.

"A female T-boned him," says Curt Engle, Chance's owner.

The incident landed Chance in Waterhouse Animal Hospital in Fresno, where a veterinarian provided an antibiotic and fungicide to clear up an infection at the base of a toenail. Some of the bill was covered by Engle's insurance through Veterinary Pet Insurance.

VPI, the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reviewed more than a million claims in the past year and nominated Chance with 10 others for its 2013 Hambone Award for the most unusual claim. The award is named after a dog that ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator.

This year's winner will be determined by public online voting at the website Voting began Sept. 24 and ends Oct. 11.

If Chance wins, Waterhouse Animal Hospital would receive $10,000 through the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat pets whose owners could not otherwise afford treatment.

The goat-butting occurred in July 2012.

A neighbor's miniature goats — female Twinks and male Beau — had gotten loose. Engle was trying to round them up with Chance.

"The female is notorious for head-butting, and she bopped him in the side, a huge head-butt," Engle remembers. "I heard him go, 'Arf.' "

Engle thought everything was OK. He has worked with Chance, a search-and-rescue dog with the California Rescue Dog Association, for the past five years.

"As a search dog, he had been in tough situations," Engle says.

A couple days later, Chance was limping and Engle took him to the vet.

"His toenail had gotten caught in the wire fence — and yanked his toenail," Engle explained.

Chance was fine after a few days, Engle says.

Recently, Chance and Engle trained at Shaver Lake with about a dozen other handlers and their rescue dogs. Engle says he was surprised when VPI officials called to say Chance was up for an award.

"At the time, it was so normal," Engle says. "It wasn't a big deal. For people who don't live in the country, it was determined to be quite odd."


The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6304.

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