Frisky Feline Found Following 15-Mile Road Trip in Car Engine

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects June's Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (July 26, 2012) – Leann Munro of Rio Linda, Calif., had a tough time keeping her adventurous cat, Pebbles, inside the house. It wasn’t until he ventured 15 miles by way of a car engine that she truly appreciated the value of implanting microchips in her pets. While Leann was out of town for the weekend, Pebbles managed to sneak out of her house and wound up in the engine of a car destined for Carmichael, Calif., about 15 miles away from Leann’s home. Luckily, a good Samaritan found the injured feline in his shed and immediately dropped Pebbles off at a local veterinary emergency hospital to treat his wounds.

The emergency veterinarian was able to easily track down Leann through Pebbles’ microchip, and, upon hearing the news, she rushed to the hospital. When Leann arrived, she was horrified by the injuries Pebbles sustained during the car ride. “Pebbles had been caught in the car’s alternator belt and had a broken jaw and several deep lacerations,” said Leann.

Pebbles was stabilized and received pain medication to help him through the night, before being transferred to his regular veterinarian in the morning for surgery on his jaw.

“The emergency veterinarian congratulated me on two things before I left the hospital,” explained Leann. “First, that I had implanted a microchip; otherwise Pebbles may have been euthanized. Second, that I had VPI Pet Insurance , which enabled me to provide the veterinary care that Pebbles required. The cost of the treatment without pet insurance would have seriously threatened my budgetary constraints.”

Unfortunately, Pebbles’ regular veterinarian determined that Pebbles was not yet strong enough for jaw surgery, so Leann dropped him off at her veterinary hospital each morning until the veterinarian was confident that Pebbles would be able to withstand the rigors of the surgical procedure. After a few days of close monitoring, Pebbles underwent surgery, which included inserting a wire to stabilize his jaw, and sutures to assist the healing of all of his deep lacerations.

“I knew Pebbles was a tough cat,” said Leann. “The veterinarian was so great to us. Pebbles was kind of a ‘pet’ project for the veterinarian, as she had never seen anything like this and Pebbles had so many different injuries.”

In addition to the excellent medical treatment Pebbles received, Leann is very thankful that she decided years ago to implant microchips in all of her pets. “Without the microchip, we likely never would have known what happened to Pebbles,” said Leann. “He has been through a lot, but he is doing great.”

“Incidents like this illustrate the benefits of planning for unexpected events,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Veterinary Pet Insurance. “Microchips help alleviate some of the concern pet owners have if their pet is lost, and pet insurance helps give pet parents peace of mind that they can provide their pets with optimal medical care should something bad happen.”

Although Pebbles is still in the process of rehabilitating, Leann is thankful that pet insurance has assisted her through this difficult experience. “All of my animals have pet insurance because they are members of my family,” said Leann.

Pebbles’ incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of June by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in June included a Weimaraner that had puncture wounds as a result of being run over by a golf cart; a pug with a fractured toe after getting it caught in a wheelchair; and an Australian cattle dog that had a fish hook stuck in her esophagus. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in June, Pebbles will be in the running for the 2012 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees from previous months include Bayley the Labrador puppy who crashed into and shattered a 55-gallon aquarium, and Nathan the miniature dachshund who meddled with a muskrat. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2012 nominees, visit

Note to editors: Digital images of Pebbles are available upon request. Send requests to

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 485,000 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, nearly 3,000 companies nationwide offer 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

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