Brooklyn Spaniel Survives Breathtaking Battle with Potato Chip Bag

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual July Claim

Brea, Calif. (Aug. 25, 2015) For 10 years, Freckles the Cocker Spaniel and her infectious personality have brought happiness to Sue Bozzi and her family in Brooklyn, N.Y. Freckles is a strong-willed pup with an eager palate, who has been known to go to extraordinary lengths for a treat, including the time she dug through a foot of snow for a piece of food. However, her determination nearly caused her demise when she passed out from oxygen deprivation after getting her head stuck in a potato chip bag. Freckles’ breathtaking brunch and miraculous comeback have earned her the title of July’s "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

On the night of the asphyxiation, Sue was set to attend a dinner with a friend. Sue’s daughter Christina was staying home with Freckles and planned to watch a movie while her mother was out.

“I had gone outside to wait for my friend, but came back inside after just a few minutes,” said Sue. “When I opened the door, I noticed that my daughter had dozed off during her movie and I could see the dog lying under the table. I thought it was strange that Freckles didn’t meet me at the door, so I tried calling her name, but I got no response.”

While Sue’s daughter napped, Freckles had noticed a potato chip bag on the counter and seized her opportunity. She jumped up, snatched the bag and chowed away. In her pursuit to get every last crumb, Freckles forced her head deep inside the bag, which became stuck and stopped her supply of oxygen. Unaware of the danger, Freckles continued her steadfast pursuit of the chips until it was too late and she lost consciousness.

As Sue investigated the situation, she recognized that Freckles was in trouble and rushed to remove the bag, but Freckles was completely unresponsive. She screamed to her daughter for help and immediately contacted her son Robert, who lives next door.

“Everything was so surreal, I couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Sue. “Robert is a police officer and knows the city like the back of his hand, so I hoped he could help. He said he knew of an emergency animal hospital so we ran to the car and took off.”

As the family rushed Freckles to Blue Pearl Animal Veterinary Partners of Brooklyn, Sue attempted to resuscitate her. Freckles then lost control of her bowels and she appeared to be gone, but the family never gave up. They continued their journey and Sue continued her efforts, and just as they pulled up to the hospital, Freckles took a breath, but she wasn’t in the clear yet.

“The veterinarians told us that that she was alive, but that she may have brain damage,” said Sue. “They informed us that her organs had started shutting down because of the length of time she was unconscious. My daughter was blaming herself, but we re-assured her that accidents happen and that we were all in this together. All we could do was hope.”

Freckles needed a plasma transfusion and was kept overnight for treatment and observation. The family returned the next morning, unsure what to expect. They were met by the head veterinarian who had miraculous news. Freckles had fought her way back and showed no signs of brain damage.

“Freckles’ recovery is truly remarkable,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Freckles’ story exemplifies the value in having an emergency plan, as well as the importance of modern veterinary medicine. Without her family’s timely response and the advanced treatment she received, Freckles wouldn’t be here to represent the Hambone Award.”

Today, Freckles is back to her loving ways and the family couldn’t be happier to have their fur baby back. Sue is grateful for the incredible veterinary care Freckles received and for the support from Nationwide.

“The veterinarians were amazing. Without their thorough work and dedication, Freckles would have been lost,” said Sue. “I signed Freckles up for pet insurance from Nationwide when she was just a few months old, because you never know what can happen, and I’m glad I did. Freckles has always been accident prone and Nationwide has helped out significantly with the costs. I recommend pet insurance to everyone I know. It’s something that pet owners shouldn’t be without.”

As the most unusual claim submitted in July, Freckles will be in the running for the 2016 Hambone Award. Freckles’ incident was one of more than 117,000 pet insurance claims received in the month of July by Nationwide, and was selected by Nationwide employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in July included a mixed breed dog who suffered oral trauma from a power washer, a miniature Dachshund who was attacked by a turkey and a French Bulldog who ate his entire food bowl! All pets considered for the Hambone Award have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Note to editors: Digital images of Freckles are available upon request. Please send requests to

About Hambone Award

The Hambone Award is named in honor of a Nationwide-insured dog who 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 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 Hambone Award nominees are available at

About Nationwide pet insurance

With more than 550,000 insured pets, pet insurance from Nationwide, formerly known as Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), is the first and largest pet health insurance provider in the United States. Since 1982, Nationwide has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers. 

Nationwide plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Wellness 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 pet insurance from Nationwide as an employee benefit.

Insurance plans 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 (2013); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2014). Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide Is On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2015 Nationwide. Pet owners can find Nationwide pet insurance on Facebook or follow on  Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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