Farm Accident Lands Lab at Top Veterinary College for Life Saving Surgeries

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual June Claim

Brea, Calif. (July 14, 2014) – Jessica Parsons of Indianapolis, Ind., is no stranger to farm life and neither is her female 2-year-old Labrador retriever, Charlie. But when Charlie slipped under a piece of farm equipment, it took two major surgeries at one of the nation’s top veterinary teaching hospitals to save her.

Charlie’s tragic accident and miraculous comeback has earned her the title of June’s "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

The accident didn’t seem that bad at first. After Charlie slipped under a disc behind a tractor driven by Jessica’s farmer boyfriend, the dog was taken to a nearby animal hospital for cuts near her tail. But the next day, Charlie was not able to get up on her own. The veterinary staff recommended that Charlie be transferred to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The stress of the accident itself was enough, but then in the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘Can I afford this?’” said Jessica. “Having pet insurance to offset medical expenses gave me some reassurance to proceed with treatment.”

Jessica left Charlie with the experts at Purdue, expecting her dog to have more tests and possible surgery the next day. She got a call later that night with a daunting update: Charlie had started bleeding, requiring fluids, blood products, and medicines to control her heart rate.

Jessica wasn't sure she would ever see her dog again.

“My father was also scheduled to have surgery for cancer, so I was unable to be there with Charlie,” said Jessica. “I hadn't been able to see her since the car ride to Purdue, and I was scared she was going to die there without me.”

The next day, Charlie raised her head at the sound of her name and wagged her tail. She had responded to the blood products, but she was still very sick. The veterinary team met and decided her spine fracture did require stabilization, but her abdominal bleeding was complicating things.

After 24 hours of observing Charlie’s blood count, the veterinary team proceeded with the spinal surgery. The surgery went well, and Charlie remained stable for a while but then she began to bleed again. Since the dog was young and had been healthy before the accident, her veterinarians felt she would have a chance at a normal life after the removal of her damaged kidney. Jessica agreed, and Charlie went back into surgery.

While Charlie's recovery has been difficult, Jessica says the dog is doing well with crate rest and limited activity.

“Charlie and Jessica are lucky they had access to the top veterinarians at a veterinary school like Purdue’s,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA and Chief Veterinary Officer at VPI. “While most people know that veterinary colleges train new veterinarians, they may not realize that most also offer care by top veterinary clinicians. Charlie’s case will most likely be used as an educational case study in the classroom and the teaching hospital for years to come – especially since the outcome was so positive.”

Jessica is grateful to the veterinary team at Purdue for saving Charlie, and she’s also grateful for pet health insurance from VPI as she was reimbursed more than $10,400 for medical care and expenses.

“Charlie is the first pet which I have insured and it proved out to be a wise decision for both Charlie and me. With a healthy Charlie and VPI on our side, we are ready for anything!”

Charlie’s incident was one of more than 95,000 claims received in the month of June 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 June included a Maine Coon that was trapped in a wall for two days, a Puggle who was wounded by a remote controlled boat while swimming, and a Wheaten Terrier that was hit and dragged by a motorcycle. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in June, Charlie 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.

Note to editors: Digital images of Charlie are available upon request. Please 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 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. Wellness coverage and 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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