New York Yorkie Narrowly Escapes Escalator Entanglement

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual October Claim

Brea, Calif. (Nov. 20, 2014) – Gina Conzo and her five-pound companion Jacques, a one-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, live a fun-filled, active life in New York City. Jacques is familiar with all sorts of travel whether it’s walking on a leash, taking a cab, riding the subway or simply tagging along in Gina’s dog carrier purse. However, one day the duo’s travels took a tragic turn when Jacques suffered serious injuries after getting his paws entangled in an escalator. Jacques’ frightening fiasco and heartwarming recovery have earned him the title of October’s "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

The incident took place at the train station as Gina and Jacques were hurrying to catch their scheduled route. Gina had Jacques in her bag as usual when they boarded the escalator, but set the tiny terrier down for just a moment to get situated for the long ride. Gina secured Jacques on his leash and searched through her bag for one of his toys as they approached the top of the escalator.

"All of a sudden I heard my baby make the most horrifying yelp, so I immediately pulled up on the leash and put him into my arms,” said Gina. “Everything happened so fast and I couldn’t tell exactly what had occurred, but I knew it involved the escalator. When I looked down at my arms there was blood everywhere and I knew Jacques needed help right away.”

Fortunately, Gina had a relative nearby who was able to pick them up and rush Jacques to the nearest animal hospital. During the car ride, Gina realized Jacques had injuries on both of his front paws, but that the left was significantly worse. Once at the hospital, the veterinarian team quickly examined Jacques and their findings were terrifying. All the pads on Jacques’ front paws had severe lacerations and one of his toes had been severed, which led to concerns of blood loss on his tiny stature. The team rushed Jacques into emergency surgery to amputate the remainder of the damaged toe and patch up the pads.

“I knew from the staff’s reaction that Jacques was in pretty bad shape and it broke my heart,” said Gina. “Jacques is a huge part of my life and waiting to hear from the veterinarian during the surgery was nerve-racking. I didn’t care about cost because I knew VPI would help with that, I only cared about getting Jacques back.”

The surgery was a success, but Jacques had a long road to recovery. The placement and severity of his wounds required constant visits to the veterinarian for bandage changings and check-ups. Jacques also had to deal with an infection in his left foot that slowed his recovery, along with learning how to balance with one less toe. However, after weeks of being wrapped up and struggling to walk, Jacques made a full recover.

“Jacque’s story shows just how dangerous our pet’s surroundings can be,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for VPI. “We all know accidents can happen, but what’s important, is how we react as pet owners. Gina did an exceptional job of using her resources and getting Jacques help immediately. Gina’s quick thinking may have saved her dog’s life.”

Now that Jacques has his stride back, he and Gina have returned to their lively Manhattan lifestyle. Gina is so thankful for the veterinarians that treated Jacques and is incredibly happy with the support she received from VPI.

“I knew that having VPI would help with the costs, but I never expected to get this much coverage,” said Gina. “Having VPI made this difficult situation a little less stressful, and not worrying about the costs made it easier to focus on getting Jacques the care he needed. Jacques was the first pet I’ve insured through VPI and now I’ll never go without it again. With VPI, we’re ready for anything!”

As the most unusual claim submitted submitted in October, Jacques will be in the running for the 2015 VPI Hambone Award. Jacques’ incident was one of more than 103,000 claims received in the month of October by VPI, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in October include a Border collie who suffered a broken leg after being kicked by a cow and a Chow that had to have a chew bone removed from his jaw with a saw. All pets considered for the VPI Hambone Award have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Note to editors: Digital images of Jacques 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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