Fetch Fiasco Cements Heeler Mix with Shattered Snout

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual September Claim

Brea, Calif. (Oct. 29, 2015) Oso the 1-year-old Blue Heeler mix is an incredibly athletic and active companion for Denelle and Ryan Mitchell of La Mesa, Calif. Oso’s favorite hobbies include surfing with Ryan and playing fetch at the park with Denelle. However, Oso’s last field trip took a terrible turn after he misjudged a jump at the park and crashed head first into a cement barrier, breaking his nose and separating his snout. Oso’s terrifying tumble and heartwarming recovery have earned him the title of September’s "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

On the day of the nose dive, Denelle had taken Oso to his favorite local park. The duo have a routine that involves Oso sprinting across a large field to chase after a ball thrown by Denelle, followed by a meet and greet with the locals that includes tons of belly rubs. But this time their usual spot was occupied by a soccer league, so Denelle took Oso to the other side of the park, adjacent to his fetching field.

Oso was indifferent about the change and had his eyes set on the open grass, but was unfamiliar with the new scenery. In between Oso and his route was a small concrete barrier. Oso sprinted and attempted to jump it, but lost his footing and crashed full speed, face first into the barrier.

“Oso is really athletic and has never had trouble jumping something that size,” said Denelle. “When he hit the wall, I heard a loud pop. He got up right away, but I knew something was wrong. When I went to check on him I could see blood coming from his nose.”

Denelle quickly loaded Oso into the car and headed to their home a couple blocks away. Once home, Denelle cleaned Oso’s snout and examined his injuries. At first, it appeared only his nose sustained damage, until she opened his mouth.

“I wanted to make sure he hadn’t knocked out a tooth,” said Denelle. “When I opened his mouth, the site made me gasp. His nose looked like it had torn away from his gums and I knew he needed help right away.”

The force of the impact had caused Oso’s nasal cavity to separate from his mouth, internally splitting his snout, and breaking his nose. Denelle rushed Oso to the Pet Emergency & Specialty Center of East County in La Mesa for treatment. The veterinarians put Oso under anesthesia immediately to examine the extent of his injuries. The team determined that emergency surgery was required to reattach the separation in his snout, but needed the help of a specialist to complete the procedure. After hours of surgery and an abundance of internal stitches, Oso’s snout was realigned.

“Oso’s injury is a great reminder that severe pet accidents can occur at any time, even during everyday routines,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Oso is lucky he has a pet parent like Denelle who wasted no time getting him the treatment he needed. An injury that drastic should be treated immediately.”

After the surgery, Oso needed six grueling weeks of recovery until he was able to return to the park. Denelle is thrilled with Oso’s recovery and grateful for the amazing veterinary care Oso received, along with the pet insurance support they received from Nationwide.

“Oso is a major part of this family, and we were going to do whatever it took to get him the treatment he needed,” said Danelle. “He’s such a sweet dog; it was traumatic to see him hurt like that. I can’t thank the veterinary team enough for the astounding work they did and I’m really pleased that we signed up for pet insurance with Nationwide. It was really helpful with costs and allowed us to focus on getting Oso the care he needed.”

As the most unusual claim submitted in September, Oso will be in the running for the 2016 Hambone Award. Oso’s incident was one of more than 107,000 pet insurance claims received in the month of September by Nationwide, and was selected by Nationwide employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in September include an a mixed breed dog who battled with a woodchuck, a Goldendoodle that injured its abdomen jumping off a boat and a mixed breed puppy that suffered injuries after getting stuck between the bars of his crate! All pets considered for the Hambone Award have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Note to editors: Digital images of Oso are available upon request. Please send requests to rwhittington@petinsurance.com.

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 HamboneAward.com.

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. 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 petinsurance.com.

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