Twelve Perilous Pets in the Running for the Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year

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Voting is Open Through Sept. 30 to Decide Winner of 6th Annual VPI Hambone Award

After reviewing more than one million pet insurance claims received over the past year, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) has nominated 12 worthy candidates for the 2014 VPI Hambone Award. Each year VPI, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, and member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies, searches through its database of more than 500,000 insured pets to honor the most “Unusual Claim of the Year.” The winner will be decided by a public vote Sept. 16 - 30 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 could not otherwise afford treatment.

This year’s nominees include a daring dachshund that survived a bear attack; a Labrador retriever that faced grave turmoil after getting tangled with a tractor; a cocker spaniel that survived a perilous two-story plunge; and a curious cat that required surgery to have a Nerf dart removed from its intestines. All nominated pets have made full recoveries and received VPI insurance reimbursements for eligible treatment expenses. Below are brief summaries of the 12 unusual claims nominated for the 2014 VPI Hambone Award. For a more detailed account of each claim, photos of the nominees, or to vote, visit

VPI Hambone Award Nominees:

  •     Pierre the French bulldog (Chicago, Ill.). Pierre had too much fun at a Fourth of July party, nearly drowning and swallowing an entire package of cookie dough within a couple hours. Pierre was taken to the veterinarian after collapsing and was treated for shock and excessive gas.
  •     Louie the mixed breed (Louisville, Ky.). Louie’s curious appetite got the best of him when he went on an eating rampage and consumed a diaper, a tube of diaper rash cream, a bottle of baby lotion, and a children’s book. Louie was rushed to the hospital and treated for gastric foreign object ingestion.
  •     Heidi Elizabeth the cocker spaniel (Cumberland, R.I.). Heidi Elizabeth’s sightseeing efforts proved costly after she fell through a screen and took a two-story plunge. Heidi Elizabeth was examined for internal and external injuries and was treated for soft tissue trauma.
  •     Roxy the German shepherd (Gardena, Calif.). Roxy’s rambunctious rough-housing led to some less than playful pain after she ran into and shattered a sliding glass door. The bloodied Roxy was rushed to the hospital and treated for several lacerations.
  •     Cali the golden retriever (Rocklin, Calif.). Cali’s eyes proved bigger than her stomach after she devoured five pounds of raw marinating meat and an entire loaf of bread. The London broil led to tummy turmoil for Cali and she was taken to the veterinarian to induce vomiting.
  •     Henry the Labrador retriever (San Diego, Calif.). Henry’s thrill seeking nature landed him in the hospital after he jumped off a 20 ft. deck and landed on a parked car. The Evel Knievel impersonator underwent X-rays, but only suffered bruising and a broken nail.
  •     Jack the Jack Russell terrier (Ashburn, Va.). Jack’s small size got him in trouble with the food chain after he was snatched up and carried away by a large Snowy Owl. Jack was rushed to the hospital with severe internal and external injuries, but has made a full recovery.
  •     Lewes the cat (Middletown, Del.). Lewes’ curiosity almost got the best of him, when a game of feline fetch went terribly wrong after Lewes ingested a Nerf dart. After refusing to eat and becoming quite ill, Lewes was taken to the emergency animal hospital to have the dart surgically removed from his intestines.
  •     Max the dachshund (Laughlintown, Pa.). Max survived a terrible bear scare with the help of his pet parent and her trusty shovel. After being mauled by the bear Max was rushed to the hospital where he recovered from multiple lacerations and puncture wounds.
  •     Leaf the Parson Russell terrier (New York, N.Y). Leaf’s delightful days of frolicking in the park came to an uncomfortable halt when the pup got a twig stuck deep in her nasal cavity. After showing signs of abnormal breathing, Leaf was taken to the veterinarian where the stick had to be removed using scopes through her nose.
  •     Kya the goldendoodle (Las Vegas, Nev.). Kya’s playful puppy instincts took a terrible turn after an innocent game of tug-of-war led to a mangled muzzle. When a patio chair tipped over on the pup’s snout, Kya was left with a severely broken jaw and had to be rushed to the emergency hospital to undergo surgery.
  •     Charlie the Labrador retriever (Indianapolis, Ind.). Charlie is no stranger to heavy equipment being a farm dog, but after a tragedy involving a tractor, Charlie was on the brink of death. After slipping under a tractor disc, Charlie required two life saving surgeries at one of the top veterinary hospitals in the U.S.

Originally named after a dog that ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator, the annual VPI Hambone Award has since been given to the most bizarre medical claim each year since 2009. Past winners include Ellie, a Labrador retriever that gobbled up an entire beehive and its thousands of inhabitants; Lulu, a hungry bulldog that swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and piece of a basketball; Harley, a pug that ate and subsequently passed, more than 100 rocks; Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix that survived a fierce squabble with a skunk; and Winnie, a mixed breed dog that swallowed two pounds of uncooked onion rings.

“The VPI Hambone Award is a yearly reminder of the unforeseeable situations that can endanger our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “More importantly, these stories show us the importance of taking the necessary precautions and seeking veterinary treatment when an animal shows signs of distress. These pets all made remarkable recoveries because of the quick actions of their pet parents. We are happy to see them all back enjoying their lives.”

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 first 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. Wellness coverage and 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 and LinkedIn. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 866-VET-4VPI (866-838-4874) or visit

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