Lab Breaks Leg but Bounces Back from Bicycle Attack

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

Brea, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2013) – While exercise is vital in maintaining the health of our pets, as Lesli Miller of El Cajon, Calif., and her 14-year-old son recently found out, it’s best to take a more conventional approach to taking our furry friends on walks. Lesli’s son enjoys riding his bicycle and frequently took his nine-month-old Labrador retriever, Macie, with him. Unfortunately, those days are over after an accident in January in which the dog’s leash got caught on the front tire of the bicycle causing it to run over and injure Macie’s rear left leg. The incident resulted in a trip to the emergency animal hospital and surgery to repair four fractured metatarsal bones, earning Macie the title of January’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

During the walk, Lesli’s son was holding the leash on his bicycle’s handlebars when Macie spotted another dog across the street and suddenly began running to greet it. As Macie started to dart in front of the bike, the leash prevented her from running past it, causing Macie to enter the path of the bicycle tire, resulting in her left rear leg getting run over.

“I received a call from one of our neighbors explaining to me what happened, and that my son was very upset,” recalled Lesli. “He told me that Macie’s leg was severely injured. I was really concerned and rushed home to take her to the veterinarian.”

At the emergency animal hospital the veterinarian took X-rays that revealed Macie had fractured all four of her left metatarsal bones during the bicycle accident. The injured leg was immediately placed in a splint and Lesli was notified that surgery would be required to the repair the broken bones. After a few weeks, Macie had the splint removed from her injured leg and has regained most of her strength. Although she still limps around the house, Lesli expects to have her rambunctious retriever back to her old self by April.

“I can tell that Macie wants to get back to normal and play like she did before the injury,” said Lesli. “Like most Labs, she is very friendly and loves being around people. Once she’s made a full recovery, we’ll use a more conventional way of getting her exercise, however.”

“Whether you’re on the bike trail, city streets, or walking around the neighborhood, it’s important to hold your pet’s leash firmly while surveying your surroundings for unpredictable activity.,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Despite a pet owner’s best intentions, injuries can still happen to a pet on a leash, so maintaining a solid footing at all times is imperative.”

When she first brought Macie home as a new pup, Lesli decided to purchase pet insurance to protect against any high veterinary bills that may arise.

“I’m happy we chose to get VPI Pet Insurance when we first adopted Macie,” said Lesli. “Even though she’s still a puppy, Macie has had her share of unexpected injuries and illnesses and VPI has really helped us lower the costs of keeping her healthy.”

Macie’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of January 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 January included a Border collie that ingested half of a television remote control, a Conure bird that was caught in a glue trap, and a Shih Tzu that choked on a cupcake wrapper. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in January, Macie will be in the running for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Natasha the Siberian Forest cat who went through an entire washing machine cycle, Ariel the Himalayan kitten who was trapped underneath her pet parent’s garage door, and Annie the Yorkshire terrier that was stranded outdoors during one of the worst storms in North American history. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2013 nominees, visit

Digital images of Macie 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, 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. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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