Trampled By a Tractor and Patched Up at Purdue Charlie Wins 6th Annual VPI Hambone Award

America Selects Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year

Brea, Calif. (Oct. 7, 2014) – Charlie, a Labrador retriever from Indianapolis Ind., has won the 2014 VPI Hambone Award honoring the most unusual pet insurance claim of the year. Charlie earned the nomination after getting into a treacherous tangle with a tractor and making a remarkable recovery from life threatening injuries. The 6th annual VPI Hambone Award is presented by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, and a member of the Nationwide family of companies. After selecting 12 nominees for the most unusual claim of the year, VPI opened voting to the public at to decide the winner, where Charlie received the most votes.

Charlie was treated by the veterinary team at Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital where they performed two emergency surgeries to save the lovable Lab’s life. For their outstanding treatment of Charlie, Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital will receive a $10,000 VPI-funded award through the Veterinary Care Foundation (VCF) to treat pets whose owners could otherwise not afford treatment. One hundred percent of all donations to the VCF are used to treat pets, with no contributions used for administration, fundraising or overhead.

Tangled with a Tractor: Charlie's Story

Charlie is no stranger to tractors, growing up with owner Jessica Parsons on her family farm. But one day Charlie’s comfort quickly turned to concern after she slipped and was crushed by large farming equipment that was being towed behind a tractor. The injuries didn’t seem major at first as Charlie escaped the incident with only some cuts on her tail. However, the next day when Charlie was unable to get up or walk, Jessica knew something serious was wrong.

“I was so worried about Charlie, I knew she was in pain,” said Jessica. “The stress of the accident was enough, but worrying if I could afford Charlie’s treatment was also on my mind. Knowing I had VPI was reassuring and I knew I could get Charlie the care she needed.”

After taking Charlie to her local veterinarian, Jessica was advised to take Charlie to a specialist at the Purdue University College Teaching Hospital. Once at Purdue, the veterinarians performed multiple tests on Charlie and discovered daunting results. Charlie had a fractured spine and internal bleeding from a damaged kidney. The veterinarians immediately performed surgery to stabilize Charlie’s spine, and treated her abdominal injury. But when the internal bleeding persisted, the team quickly performed a second surgery to remove the failing kidney.

Since the incident, Charlie has had a long road to recovery, but has made a remarkable comeback. From taking her first steps to making a television appearance, Charlie is back to her old self. Jessica is incredibly grateful to the team at Purdue for saving Charlie and is thankful for having pet health insurance with VPI who reimbursed her more than $10,400 for Charlie’s medical care and expenses.

“Charlie was the first pet I have ever insured and it turned about to be the best decision I’ve made as a pet owner,” said Jessica. “I’m incredibly proud of how hard Charlie has fought to recover and I’m proud to be insured through VPI. With VPI, we’re ready for anything!”

As the 2014 VPI Hambone Award winner, Charlie will receive the coveted bronze Hambone Trophy, as well as a VPI gift bag filled with toys, treats and various pet supplies. VPI gift bags will also be given to the following noteworthy competitors:

Second Place – Louie the large mixed breed dog (Louisville, Ky.) Louie’s curious appetite got the best of him when he invaded a toddler’s room and consumed a diaper, a tube of diaper rash cream, an entire bottle of baby lotion and a children’s book. Louie was rushed to the hospital and treated for gastric foreign object ingestion. (Louie was treated at Gailor Animal Hospital in Louisville, Ky.)

Third Place – Jack the Jack Russell terrier (Ashburn, Va.) Jack’s small size got him in trouble with the food chain after he was snatched up and carried away by a large Snowy Owl. Jack was rushed to the hospital with severe internal and external injuries, but has made a full recovery. (Jack was treated at The Life Centre in Leesburg, Va.)

“Every year the VPI Hambone Award reminds us of the unforeseen dangers that can fall upon our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA and Chief Veterinary Officer at VPI. “With injuries this severe, Charlie is lucky she had access to the highly skilled team of veterinarians and staff available at Purdue University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. We’re overjoyed to see the progress Charlie has made in her recovery and are honored to present her with the 2014 VPI Hambone Award.”

The 12 nominees were chosen out of more than one million claims received by VPI over the past year. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses. More than 8,000 votes were cast at from Sept. 16 – 30, 2014 to determine the winner. To read the stories and see pictures of each of the 12 VPI Hambone nominees, visit

Note to editors: Digital images of Charlie and all 12 Hambone Award nominees are available upon request. Contact Ryan Whittington 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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