From toxic bra inserts to ingested pacifiers and a falling cow, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) received many astonishing pet health insurance claims last year. After a year of collecting the most unusual pet insurance claim from each month, VPI is now inviting the public to visit www.VPIHamboneAward.com and cast a vote for the most bizarre claim of the year. The pet with the claim voted most unusual will receive VPI's first Hambone Award, named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting to be found. Voting for the VPI Hambone Award will end on Sept. 14, 2009.
Following are brief summaries of the 12 unusual claims nominated for the award. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible treatment expenses. To read more detailed accounts of each claim and place a vote for your favorite Hambone nominee, visit www.VPIHamboneAward.com.
July 2008 - Sugar the Jack Russell terrier (Ocean Springs, Miss.)
In Sugar's haste to eat a wild turtle--shell and all--a small piece of shell became wedged in her nasal cavity and eventually required surgical removal.
August 2008 - Crawford the Brittany spaniel (Camp Hill, Pa.)
The gel inserts of an ingested bra proved mildly toxic to this curious canine. Fortunately, the bra passed, as did his indigestion, in about a week.
September 2008 - Rider the Belgian sheepdog (Ridgefield, Wash.)
Rider went on a wild squirrel chase, but his speed was no match for the squirrel's fancy footwork and, when the squirrel dashed up a nearby tree, Rider ran head first into a decorative wheelbarrow.
October 2008 - Becca the Labrador retriever (Greenwood Village, Colo.)
Dogs frequently ingest socks, but Becca possesses the rare distinction of ingesting the same sock twice.
November 2008 - Jean Pierre the French bulldog (Ontario, Calif.)
Veterinarians were puzzled by a lump on Jean Pierre's side. An exploratory surgery revealed that what was initially thought to be a bug bite or cancerous growth was actually a migrating corndog stick.
December 2008 - Lulu the English bulldog (Warson Woods, Mo.)
After being caught eating a pacifier, Lulu was brought to the veterinarian for an X-ray. That X-ray resulted in a surgery to remove 15 pacifiers--and various other objects--ingested over the course of six months.
January 2009 - Marley the Labrador retriever (Holiday, Fla.)
Marley's owner was trying to clear the beach of sea urchins when Marley, true to her retriever nature, ran to fetch one of the poisonous creatures. She spent the next couple hours regretting the decision.
February 2009 - Rincon the German shorthaired pointer (Tucson, Ariz.)
Rincon was enjoying a hike with his owner when he encountered a family of particularly fierce javelinas. An attack from the fearless, pig-like animals resulted in an emergency room visit and several stitches.
March 2009 - Quincy the Labrador retriever (Montpelier, Vt.)
A bucket of minnows--bait for an ice-fishing trip--piqued the interest of this young Labrador, but when Quincy stuck his snout in for a sniff, he managed to inhale a three-pronged fishhook.
April 2009 - Ranger the Border collie (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
Ranger's zeal to practice cattle herding led him crashing full-speed into a cow's back legs. Ranger was kind enough to break the cow's fall and, fortunately, didn't break anything else.
May 2009 - Toby the spaniel mix (Omaha, Neb.)
Toby's chew toy of choice, a round bone left over from a roast, somehow managed to slip over his lower jaw. Though many attempts were made to remove the bone intact, treatment eventually included anesthesia and a hacksaw.
June 2009 - Scooter the Siamese (San Clemente, Calif.)
While Scooter was being prepped for an MRI, a veterinary technician discovered the unlikely cause of her seizures: a needle, with thread still attached, which had been stuck in the back of Scooter's tongue for several weeks and pierced an area of her brain. Once the needle was removed, Scooter was back to normal in no time.
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