Rhodesian Ridgeback’s Rooftop Rough-Housing Halts Road Trip

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual December Claim

Brea, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2015) – Melissa Crowley and Nathan VanPelt’s companion Zimba, a 1-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, is more than just a dog, she’s a fellow adventurer. The family has been on countless expeditions together, including a pair of coast-to-coast cross country trips. However their last exploration may stand as their most memorable, after Zimba crashed and fell through a roof top glass window, sustaining serious injuries. Zimba’s strange circumstances and heartening recovery have earned her the title of December’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 couple purchased VPI for Zimba when she was a puppy while living in Oregon. At the time of her accident, Melissa, her fiancé Nathan and Zimba were in the midst of moving to San Diego, traveling by car. During the road trip, they made a pit-stop in San Francisco to visit an old friend who lived in a home that had been transformed from a warehouse.

“The stop in San Francisco was supposed to be refreshing for all of us,” said Melissa. “It was a chance for us to relax and for Zimba to burn some energy off with other dogs. The house was open and spacious for the dogs to play, but we had no idea it would lead to such a disaster. Accidents can happen at any time, and this sure proved it.”

Once at the house, the family headed to the rooftop lounge for dinner. It included a large area for Zimba to run around and play with a dog who lived at the residence. As Zimba’s parents were enjoying a relaxing dinner, they witnessed the rambunctious Ridgeback sprint across the lounge followed by the sound of a sudden crash. Zimba had leaped into a far area of the lounge with a skylight window and shattered it, falling through. Melissa and Nathan rushed to help the pup who landed on a steel beam directly below the window. After pulling Zimba to safety, they noticed blood and rushed her to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.

“The whole thing was terrifying. We thought the lounge was completely secure,” said Melissa. “We’re lucky Zimba landed on the beam or else she would have fallen farther onto concrete. Once we pulled her up, we could see that she had deep cuts on her legs from the glass. Zimba is such a happy and loving dog, it was devastating to see her in pain.”

After being examined by the veterinary staff, Zimba needed to be anesthetized for minor surgery involving both interior and exterior stitches to repair her wounds. Fortunately, she escaped the incident without any major or life-threatening injuries.

“Zimba is lucky her fall didn’t cause serious harm,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for VPI. “Lacerations from sharp objects like glass can easily cause deep tissue damage such as severing vital tendons or arteries. Also, the potential impact onto concrete from that distance could have resulted in severely broken bones and internal organ damage. Zimba’s extremely fortunate that he had owners who spared no time in getting her emergency treatment.”

After spending the night in the animal hospital, Zimba and the family completed their move to San Diego. Since her dinnertime disaster, Zimba has made a full recovery and is happier than ever in her new home.

“We’re just grateful that Zimba is okay,” said Melissa. “She’s our little adventurer and we didn’t want anything to change that. Thankfully the accident hasn’t changed a thing. She’s the same playful dog from the rivers of Oregon to the beaches of San Diego. Having VPI made this situation easier because we knew that we’d be covered no matter where we took Zimba. With VPI we’re ready for anything!”

As the most unusual claim submitted in December, Zimba will be in the running for the 2015 VPI Hambone Award. Zimba’s incident was one of more than 95,000 claims received in the month of December by VPI, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in December include a pair of dogs attacked by a raging raccoon, a Labrador that swallowed a vacuum cleaner plug and a cat that burned the underside of all four paws running across a stove. 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 Zimba are available upon request. Please send requests to rwhittington@petinsurance.com.

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 VPIHamboneAward.com

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 525,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI), a Nationwide company, is the first and largest pet health insurance provider 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 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 VPI Pet Insurance 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). Veterinary Pet Insurance, VPI and the cat/dog logo are service marks of Veterinary Pet Insurance Company. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide Is On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2015 Veterinary Pet Insurance Company and Nationwide. 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.


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