The bird tried to snatch the dog away, but ultimately failed

It was unusual for Chico to get out of bed in the middle of the night, but at 1:30 one morning last month, the 3-year-old tan Chihuahua woke up and seemed to need to go outside.

George Kalomiris, who was awake, put on his winter coat and a jacket on Chico. Then they stepped out into the Illinois winter chill together. Suddenly, during their walk, Chico stopped in his tracks and would not move. Kalomiris tugged at his dog, then he heard a whimper.

“Out of nowhere, a huge owl started to attack,” Kalomiris’s wife Dana tells “Chico cried immediately.”

The great horned owl, with a 5-ft. wingspan, had swooped down to Chico, picked him up with its talons, and tried to drag him away. Instead, Chico’s coat was too thick for the owl to secure a good grip, and the dog’s retractable leash hit one of the owl’s wings. The two animals struggled across the snow on a neighbor’s yard, and eventually, the owl flew away – without his intended prey.

“My husband grabbed Chico and ran inside,” Dana says. “[Chico] was still crying. It was pitiful and so sad. A hurt cry.”

The Kalomirises immediately drove to the animal emergency hospital, where the vet told them that Chico had only been bruised and scratched, but that his organs hadn’t been harmed. Had Chico not been wearing his coat, the owl’s talons would have surely punctured him and killed him.

The unusual story made news in Illinois and even garnered Chico an award: the Kalomirises were honored for making January’s most unusual insurance claim by Veterinary Pet Insurance. In spite of all the attention, things have returned to normal for Chico. After a few days of antibiotics and soreness, the dog was back to being his usual self – almost.

“He’s been really good, but he really doesn’t like going out at night anymore,” Dana says. “He will do it if it’s quick and I’m standing right next to him, but he gets nervous otherwise.”