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Reference Desk September 2011

Rock-Pooping Pug Wins 3rd Annual VPI Hambone Award

    Public Selects Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year

    BREA, Calif., Sept. 21, 2011—A Manville, R.I., pug named Harley made national headlines when he ate, and subsequently passed, more than 100 rocks. But today, Harley can add a more coveted title to his claim to fame as Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, named him the winner of the 2011 VPI Hambone Award.

    More than 4,000 votes were cast at VPIHamboneAward.com from Sept. 6-20, 2011 to determine a winner among the 12 nominees. As the third recipient of the annual award, created by VPI to educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that befall household pets, Harley's rock-eating incident captured the most public votes, earning him the VPI Hambone title as the most unusual claim of the year.

    "Foreign body ingestion can be a common occurrence in dogs, but Harley's incident of eating and safely passing more than 100 rocks is a rarity," said Carol McConnell, DVM, president and chief medical officer at VPI. "Pets have an unpredictable nature. Because we can't monitor their actions or environment around the clock, one of the best things we can do as responsible pet owners is simply prepare for the unexpected."

    Unplugged: Harley's Story
    According to Lori Laverdiere, Harley's owner, her pug previously had shown little interest in ingesting things that he should not. But when she picked up Harley from the veterinarian's office after a trip out of town, his bowel movements consisted only of rocks. Lori felt several rocks in Harley's stomach and his condition worsened until he could no longer eat or drink without vomiting.

    Lori rushed Harley to the emergency animal hospital where X-rays revealed that he had ingested more than 100 small rocks, clogging the pug's entire intestinal tract and filling half of his stomach. Fortunately, the rocks were small enough for Harley to pass without surgery. He was kept overnight at the hospital where the veterinarian administered medication to help him expel the stones. Within a couple of days, Harley made a complete recovery.

    "I've had Harley for 6 years, since he was a puppy, and he's never done anything like this," said Lori. "It just goes to show that you never really know what dogs will do, so you have to be prepared for everything. I love this dog more than anything and I'm so grateful that he's OK."

    As the 2011 VPI Hambone Award winner, Harley will receive a bronze trophy in the shape of a ham, as well as a VPI swag bag filled with toys, treats and an emergency pet kit. VPI swag bags also will be given to the following noteworthy competitors:

    Second Place – Chico the Chihuahua (Crystal Lake, Ill.). This 4-pound Chihuahua found himself caught in the middle when a Great Horned Owl challenged his owner to a game of tug of war using Chico's leash.

    Third Place – Stella Artois the Labrador retriever (Ramsey, N.J.). While a healthy serving of vegetables is generally encouraged, Stella learned there are exceptions to every rule. This pup's dumpster dive for green beans left her with a tin can lodged firmly on her jaw.

    The 12 nominees were chosen from more than 1 million claims VPI receives annually. They were considered among other uncommon medical claims and selected by VPI as the most unusual of the bunch. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses. For more details on the 12 VPI Hambone Award nominees, to read their claims, or see their photos and videos, visit VPIHamboneAward.com.

    Note to editors: Digital images of Harley and his X-ray are available upon request. Send requests to ncross@petinsurance.com.

    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 bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet health 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 VPIHamboneAward.com.

    About Veterinary Pet Insurance
    With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency is the No. 1 veterinarian-recommended pet health insurance company and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies. Providing pet owners with peace of mind since 1982, the company is committed to being the trusted choice of America's pet lovers and an advocate of pet health education. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional CareGuard® coverage is available for routine care.

    Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,500 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company in Madison, Wis. 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 petinsurance.com.

    Source: Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.


    Did you know... More than three in five Americans (62%) have a pet. Among pet owners, seven in 10 have a dog (69%), half have a cat (51%), one in 10 have a fish (11%), and less than one in 10 pet owners have a bird (7%) or some other type of pet (8%).Read More

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