Nationwide to Honor Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year

Public Vote to Decide Winner of 7th Annual Hambone Award on Sept. 16

Brea, Calif. (Sept. 16, 2015) – After reviewing more than 1.3 million pet insurance claims received over the past year, Nationwide has nominated 12 worthy candidates for the 2015 Hambone Award. Each year, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, searches through its database of more than 550,000 insured pets to honor the most “Unusual Claim of the Year.” The winner will be decided by a public vote Sept. 16 - 30 at

In addition, the animal hospital that treated this year’s Hambone Award winner will receive a $10,000 Nationwide-funded award through the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat pets whose owners could not otherwise afford treatment.

This year’s nominees include a Catahoula mix who got lost in a blizzard for three days, a Shih Tzu who was trapped in a burning building, a Persian cat who swallowed more than three feet of packaging tape, and many more. All nominated pets have made full recoveries and received Nationwide insurance reimbursements for eligible treatment expenses. Below are brief summaries of the 12 unusual claims nominated for the 2015 Hambone Award. For a more detailed account of each claim, photos of the nominees, or to vote, visit

Hambone Award Nominees:

July 2014 – Nikko the Shih Tzu (Hollywood, Calif.). After running a few errands, Nikko’s owner Courtney Cecil returned home to find her house engulfed in flames and Nikko trapped inside. Following a daring rescue, both Nikko and Courtney were treated for severe smoke inhalation.

August 2014 – Charm the silver-shaded Persian cat (Woodbridge, Va.). Charm’s mouser mischief took a near tragic turn after he swallowed more than three feet of packaging tape. After medication and laxatives, Charm eventually passed 19 inches of tape and regurgitated the rest.

September 2014 – Lola the Labrador retriever (North Bend, Wash.). Lola’s timing couldn’t have been worse when she chewed through an extension cord and suffered from a severe electrical shock on her owners’ wedding day. Lola suffered from pulmonary edema and was treated for fluid in her lungs, but her owners were able to get married after Lola was stabilized and the veterinarians prescribed them to “Go get married!”

October 2014 – Jacques the Yorkshire terrier (New York City, N.Y.). Jacques’ busy New York lifestyle was brought to a halt after the tiny terrier got his paws entangled in an escalator. Jacques suffered from severely lacerated paw pads and required one toe amputation.

November 2014 – Jackie the Manchester terrier mix (Indianapolis, Ind.). Jackie’s bizarre break-in gave her a huge belly ache after she figured out how to open the family’s junk drawer and ate all of its contents, including a medicine bottle, a bottle of fragrance and a pair of sunglasses. Jackie needed X-rays and laxatives, but eventually was able to pass all the items.

December 2014 – Zimba the Rhodesian Ridgeback (San Diego, Calif.). Zimba’s rough housing halted his family’s road trip after the ridgeback crashed through a roof top window. Zimba suffered from deep lacerations, but was able to complete the road trip after receiving stitches and medication.

January 2015 – Bones the Labrador retriever (Frackville, Pa.). Bones the hunting dog made a rare mistake when he jumped off his usual patch and was impaled by a tree branch. The branch went through Bones’ throat which required surgery for removal and repair.

February 2015 – Miles the Catahoula mix (Walnut Creek, Calif.). Miles survived three days in a blizzard after being separated from his camp and traveling for miles before being found. Miles suffered from dehydration and various lacerations.

March 2015 – Rocky the miniature Dachshund (San Diego, Calif.). Rocky lived up to his name after he successfully fended off a rattlesnake from making a snack out of his smaller siblings. Rocky’s fight left him with multiple deadly rattlesnake bites, but he was able to pull through and make a full recovery.

April 2015 – Woodrow the French bulldog (Yardley, Pa.) Woodrow had quite the identity crisis after he swallowed the nametags right off his collar….while he was still wearing it. Woodrow needed surgery to remove the tags and the tag ring from his stomach.

May 2015 – Curtis the Boxer (Princeton, W. Va.). Curtis’ knack for snacking landed him in serious trouble after he swallowed a barbeque skewer, which disappeared in his body and surfaced more than year later, nearly ending his life. Curtis needed emergency surgery at Virginia Tech. University’s veterinary college to save his life.

June 2015 – Sam the Pug (Monrovia, Calif.). Sam will eat whatever he can get his paws on, but he may rethink his diet after he swallowed a bunch of magnets that bonded together inside him and pinched his intestinal tract together. Sam needed emergency surgery and a long rehabilitation program, but he has made a full recovery.

Originally named after a dog that ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator, the annual Hambone Award has since been given to the most bizarre medical claim each year since 2009. Past winners include: Charlie, a Labrador retriever who became entangled with a tractor; Ellie, a Labrador retriever that gobbled up an entire beehive and its thousands of inhabitants; Lulu, a hungry bulldog that swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball; Harley, a pug that ate and subsequently passed more than 100 rocks; Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix that survived a fierce squabble with a skunk; and Winnie, a mixed breed dog that swallowed two pounds of uncooked onion rings.

“The Hambone Award is a yearly reminder of the unforeseeable mishaps that can occur with our pets at any time,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “More importantly, these stories exemplify the importance of taking the necessary precautions and seeking veterinary treatment when an animal shows signs of distress. These pets all made remarkable recoveries because of their quick thinking pet parents and proper treatment by skilled veterinarians. We are delighted to see them all back to enjoying their lives.”

Note to editors: Digital images of the Hambone Award and the 2015 Hambone Award nominees are available. 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

Nationwide pet insurance With more than 550,000 insured pets, Nationwide 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 related 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. 

nsurance 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 @NationwidePet on Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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