Screened Out Cocker Spaniel Takes Two-Story Plunge, Survives

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects September’s Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (Oct. 23, 2013) – Monique Johnson of Cumberland, R.I., was accustomed to her two American cocker spaniels, Heidi Elizabeth and Abby Marie, running upstairs and looking outside as she left the house. Unfortunately, last month, as Heidi attempted to get a better view of her departing owner, she pushed on the window screen hard enough to send the screen – and herself, out of the second-story window.

The accidental plunge resulted in a trip to the veterinarian where Heidi was examined for internal and external injuries and treated for soft tissue trauma, earning her the title of September’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

"I was leaving to go shopping with my daughter," explained Monique. "I said goodbye to Heidi and Abby like I always do and they ran upstairs to go look out the window. Unfortunately, Heidi jumped onto the back of the couch and pushed just hard enough on the screen for it to fall out of the window. Heidi then went tumbling out of the window and landed at my feet in the driveway."

Immediately following the plunge, Heidi tried to walk back into the house, but her paws bore the brunt of the fall and she was in too much pain to walk or stand, so Monique quickly took her to the animal hospital.

"The veterinarian immediately brought Heidi into one of the examination rooms and checked her for external injuries," said Monique. "The only visible injury was a cut on her lip where she probably bit down during the fall. Next, she was brought into a separate room where the staff took X-rays of her paws and bones and checked her for internal injuries. The veterinarian found some swelling but could not believe that she had no signs or symptoms of any more serious internal or external injuries. They literally called it a ‘miracle’ that nothing more serious happened to her."

"Heidi Elizabeth is a very lucky dog," said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "She is very fortunate that she didn’t sustain any internal injuries as a result of the fall. What’s even more amazing is that despite landing on her paws, Heidi did not suffer from any bone, tendon or ligament injuries. This incident illustrates the unpredictable nature of pets, despite everything we do to protect them."

Heidi was treated with pain medication and limited activity for a few weeks, and she has since made a full recovery devoid of any long-term or lingering injuries. The terrifying incident has made Monique more appreciative of her decision to purchase VPI Pet Insurance for Heidi Elizabeth and Abby Marie.

"It’s important to have pet insurance for everyday illnesses and injuries, but it’s also very useful for unexpected accidents that can occur at any time," said Monique.

Heidi Elizabeth’s incident was one of more than 90,000 claims received in the month of September 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 September included a French bulldog who was bitten by a frog, a mixed-breed dog who ate a pair of women’s nylons, and a Siberian husky who was attacked by two armadillos. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in September, Heidi Elizabeth will be in the running for the 2014 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Pierre the French bulldog who took an unplanned dip in the swimming pool at a Fourth of July party, and Louie the mixed-breed dog who ingested a diaper, baby lotion and a book.

Digital images of Heidi Elizabeth 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 500,000 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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