Cast Your Vote for the Most Perilous Pet of the Year

Share Article

5th Annual VPI Hambone Award Voting Open Through October 11

After reviewing more than one million pet insurance claims received by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) over the past year, 11 were worthy of nomination for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award honoring the “Most Unusual Claim of the Year.” VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, will honor one of its more than 500,000 insured pets with the fifth annual VPI Hambone Award. Voting is open now through Oct. 11 at
In addition, the animal hospital that treated this year’s VPI Hambone Award Winner will receive a $10,000 VPI-funded award through the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat pets whose owners can not otherwise afford treatment.

Nominees include a mixed-breed dog that survived a brawl with a buck, a 48-pound pooch who was treated for alcohol poisoning after feasting on 24 uncooked bread dough rolls, and a cat that went through a full 35-minute washing machine cycle and lived to purr about it. All 11 nominees are highlighted below. The winner will be determined by a public vote at Voting is open through Oct. 11, 2013 and will decide which perilous pet will take home the esteemed honor.

Named originally after a dog that ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator, the annual VPI Hambone Award has since been presented for four equally unusual claims. Past winners include Ellie, a Labrador retriever who gobbled up an entire beehive and its thousands of inhabitants; Lulu, a hungry bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and piece of a basketball; Harley, a pug that ate, and subsequently passed, more than 100 rocks; and Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix who survived a fierce squabble with a skunk.

Following are brief summaries of the 11 unusual claims nominated for the 2013 Hambone Award. All nominated pets made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible treatment expenses. For a more detailed account of each claim, photos of the nominees, or to cast a vote, visit

  •     July 2012 – Chance the Labrador retriever (Clovis. Calif.). Curious canine, Chance went for a closer view of his neighbor’s livestock and was broadsided by an exuberant goat and sent crashing into the pen’s fencing.
  •     August 2012 – Ariel the Himalayan cat (San Rafael, Calif.). Ariel’s diminutive dimensions likely cost her one of her nine lives when she was trapped underneath her owners’ garage door.
  •     September 2012 – Ryder the Labrador retriever (Wilmington, Del.). Rambunctious Ryder enjoyed his dog chew so much; he accidentally swallowed the object, sending him to the veterinarian to treat diarrhea and colitis.
  •     November 2012 – Dingo the mixed-breed dog (Denver, Colo.). 48-pound Dingo dined on two dozen uncooked bread dough rolls, causing yeast-related alcohol poisoning and landing him in the emergency animal hospital.
  •     December 2012 – Natasha the Siberian Forest cat (Oakland, Calif.). Natasha was treated for shock and hypothermia after her owner’s roommate accidentally completed a wash cycle with the curious cat inside the machine.
  •     January 2013 – Macie the Labrador retriever (El Cajon, Calif.). Macie was out on a bike ride with her owner’s son when the leash got caught on the front tire of the bicycle causing it to run over and fracture the pup’s rear left leg.
  •     February 2013 – Mocha the Bernese mountain dog (Barnegat, N.J.). When her owner stopped short in a parking lot, Mocha was thrust forward from the passenger seat, cracking the car windshield.
  •     March 2013 – Winnie the mixed-breed dog (Barnstable, Mass.). ‘Winnie the pooch’ munched on a two-pound bag of frozen onion rings which led to a turbulent tummy and a trip to the veterinarian for potential onion poisoning.
  •     April 2013 – McQuire the mixed-breed dog (Boulder, Colo.). Seemingly unafraid, McQuire went toe-to-toe with a 15-point buck. The deer dustup ended with the daring dog getting knocked to the ground and rolled over three times.
  •     May 2013 – Pippa the Siamese cat (Irvine, Calif.). Pippa was rushed to the emergency animal hospital to treat the lacerations suffered when she got pinned behind her owners’ refrigerator.
  •     June 2013 – Luke the Labrador retriever (Emerald Isle, N.C.). Luke was taken to the emergency animal hospital for surgery to remove a golf ball that he accidentally swallowed while ‘retrieving’ it in his backyard.

“Each year, the VPI Hambone Award reminds us of the unpredictable nature of pets,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “As we reviewed the claims for this year’s nominees, the various stories evoked grave concern, fear and even laughter! What’s important is that all of our Hambone nominees recovered, and perhaps we all learned a little something from their unfortunate events. Accidents do happen and pet owners should always be prepared for the unexpected.”

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 500,000 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

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Media Relations
Visit website