Brea, Calif. (April 24, 2014) – As Marlene Flint of Laughlintown, Pa., went outside with her 8-year-old dachshund, Max, she was suddenly faced with a terrifying sight. Eighteen-pound Max was viciously attacked by a black bear who picked up the diminutive dachshund twice before Marlene and her husband were able to save their pooch.
The incident led to a trip to the emergency animal hospital where Max received life-saving treatment, earning him the title of March’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).
"I went outside with Max while he went to the bathroom, and suddenly a black bear came out of nowhere and grabbed him," explained Marlene. "The bear had Max in his mouth and dropped him. When Max fell to the ground, he lunged at the bear in an attempt to defend himself. That provoked the bear even more and he picked Max up again with his mouth. I was so scared that I grabbed a nearby snow shovel and hit the bear in the head until he released Max."
Marlene’s husband rushed Max into the house to examine the injuries that were caused by the brawl. Max had wounds all over his body, so Marlene and her husband immediately took him to their animal hospital where Max was given pain medication so he would be able to endure the one hour drive to a veterinary emergency and specialty hospital.
"When we arrived at the veterinary emergency hospital, the veterinarian told us that Max’s chances of survival depended on the severity of his injuries," said Marlene. "He was treated for multiple puncture wounds along his thorax, abdomen and back, and he remained hospitalized for several days. We feel extremely fortunate that Max received such excellent treatment and that he is now back home doing really well."
Although Max was left with significant scars as a result of the bear attack, Marlene knows the incident could have ended on a much more tragic note. "We have lived in this area for more than 25 years and seen many bears cross through our property, but never in the middle of winter in deep snow," she said. "At the time I didn’t realize how dangerous the situation was for my husband and I; we just wanted to protect Max."
"It’s easy to forget that encounters with wild animals can be quite dangerous," said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "While nothing can completely eliminate potential encounters between pets and wildlife, you can minimize them by making your property unattractive to wild animals, such as by keeping garbage cans secure and not leaving food out."
As a VPI Pet Insurance policyholder for nearly eight years, Marlene has received reimbursements for a variety of Max’s claims, ranging from an upset stomach to soft tissue trauma to an ear infection. Needless to say, she was particularly satisfied with her decision to purchase pet insurance given Max’s attack by a black bear.
"We were extremely thankful we have VPI when we found out the total cost of Max’s treatment," said Marlene. "I can better understand the decision pet owners are faced with when they have an expensive veterinary bill and don’t have insurance to help with the costs."
Max’s incident was one of more than 95,000 claims received in the month of March by VPI, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in March included a viszla who received lacerations to his front limbs after jumping through a glass window after the mailman, an Airedale terrier who was attacked by a javelina and a mixed-breed dog who was treated for oral and gastric discomfort after licking a jellyfish. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.
As the most unusual claim submitted in March, Max 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, Roxy the German shepherd who crashed into and shattered a sliding glass door, and Jack the Jack Russell terrier who was picked up and attacked by a snowy owl.
Digital images of Max are available upon request. Send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 VPIHamboneAward.com.
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 first 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 petinsurance.com.
P.O. Box 2344
Brea, CA 92822-2344