Voting open for Veterinary Pet Insurances Hambone Award


Nominees selected are group of most unusual pet insurance claims for 2014.

PierreVeterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies, has nominated 12 pets to be the recipient of the 2014 VPI Hambone Award. Each year the company searches its database to find the most unusual claim of the year, and the winner is chosen by a public vote. The animal hospital that treated the winning pet will also receive a $10,000 award through VPI and the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat pets whose owners are unable to pay for treatment.

“The VPI Hambone Award is a yearly reminder of the unforeseeable situations that can endanger our pets,” says Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI, in a company release. “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.”

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.

Voting is open now through Sept. 30 at This year's nominees include a cat that swallowed a Nerf gun dart, a German shepherd who ran through a glass door and a Dachshund who had a close encounter with a bear. To see photos and read more about each of the nominees, press the Next button below.


Jack the Jack Russell terrier, Ashburn, Va.

Treated by Life Centre in Ashburn, Va.

6-year-old, 15-lb Jack earned January's most unusual claim of the month after being picked up and dropped by a Snowy owl in his backyard. His owners rushed him to the hospital where he was treated for internal and external injuries, including lacerations from the bird's talons. Jack has made a full recovery.

All photos courtesy VPI.


Lewes the cat, Middletown, Del.

Treated by Atlantic Veterinary Center in Middletown, Del.

Lewes the cat loves playing fetch with the two children in his family. He earned February's most unusual claim of the month after ingesting a Nerf gun dart. His owners noticed vomiting and refusal to eat and took Lewes to the veterinary hospital. The dart was removed from his intestines during surgery.


Max the Dachshund, Laughlintown, Pa.

Treated by AVETS in Monroeville, Pa.

A close encounter with a black bear earned Max the distinction of most unusual claim for the month of March. Quick thinking on the part of Max's owner, who hit the bear with a snow shovel, allowed Max to escape the bear's jaws. He was treated for serious lacerations and puncture wounds.


Leaf the Parson Russell terrier, New York, New York

Treated by Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in New York, New York

After Leaf showed signs of abnormal breathing and radiographs showed nothing amiss, she completed a 14-day course of antibiotics. Leaf's owners then took her to a veterinary specialist, who found a twig stuck in Leaf's left nasal cavity. The twig was removed with a scope. Leaf made a full recovery and earned the honor of April's most unusual claim.


Kya the Goldendoodle, Las Vegas, Nev.

Treated by Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in Las Vegas, Nev.

In May, a game of tug-of-war turned into a serious situation for Kya, a 12-week-old Goldendoodle. While playing with the other dog in the family, a patio chair tipped over onto Kya's snout, leaving her with a badly broken jaw. She was taken to the emergency hospital and had surgery to repair the damage.


Charlie the Labrador retriever Indianapolis, Ind.

Treated by Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Ind.

As a farm dog, Charlie was used to farm equipment, but an accident left her in need of two surgeries to save her life. Charlie slipped under a tractor disc, and it initially appeared that she only needed repair to lacerations on her tail. The next morning she was unable to stand and her owner took her back to the veterinarian, who discovered a spinal fracture and internal bleeding. Her recovery has been difficult but she is doing well, her owner says. Charlie earned the honor of June's most unusual claim.


Pierre the French bulldog, Chicago, Ill.

Treated by Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine in Chicago Ill.

A Fourth of July party proved perilous for Pierre, a one-year-old French bulldog, who nearly drowned after falling into a swimming pool. After being quickly rescued and dried off, his owners left him inside and returned to the party outside. While inside Pierre discovered some chocolate chip cookies that were tucked in a bag. On the way home from the party Pierre collapsed and was taken to a veterinary clinic, where he was treated for shock and excessive gas.


Louie the mixed breed, Louisville, Ky.

Treated by Gailor Animal Hospital in Louisville, Ky.

An August eating spree earned Louie, a mixed breed, the title of most unusual claim of the month. An open bedroom door gave Louie the opportunity to eat a diaper, a tube of diaper rash cream, baby lotion and a children's book. The hospital treated him for gastric foreign object ingestion, and the family has been vigilant about keeping objects out of Louie's reach.


Heidi Elizabeth the Cocker Spaniel, Cumberland, R.I.

Treated by Compassionate Care Veterinary Clinic in Cumberland, R.I.

Heidi Elizabeth's efforts to see her family off led to a tumble out of a second-story window after accidentally pushing on the screen hard enough to send it-and her-to the ground below. Named September's most unusual claim of the month, she was examined for internal and external injuries and treated for soft tissue trauma.


Roxy the German shepherd, Gardena, Calif.

Treated by Affordable Animal Hospital in Torrance, Calif.

In October, Roxy the shepherd heard something outside and wanted to go investigate. Unfortunately, the path she took was straight through a sliding glass door. Her owner stayed calm and cleaned her up before taking her to the hospital, where she was treated for her lacerations.


Cali the Golden retriever, Rocklin, Calif.

Treated by Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Rocklin, Calif.

Cali's eyes were bigger than her stomach in November after gaining access to five pounds of raw meat and a loaf of bread. Her owner thought the marinating meat was out of reach, but Cali had other plans and ate the entire meal. She was taken to the hospital to induce vomiting and placed on a strict diet for a few days.


Henry the Labrador retriever, San Diego, Calif.

Treated by Kensington Veterinary Hospital in San Diego, Calif.

Henry's enthusiastic nature made him December's most unusual claim. He landed in the hospital after accidentally jumping off a 20-ft high deck. His owners say that he ran up the stairs to see a neighbor, but he ran right past and jumped off the deck, landing on a parked car below. Henry underwent X-rays but luckily only suffered bruising and a broken nail.

Reviewed all the nominees? Don't forget voting is open now through Sept. 30 at

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