When Olivia Stanisic’s fiancé, Michael, was offered a new job in Minneapolis, Minn., she agreed to leave her home town of Chicago under one condition - that they get a dog. After searching online for rescue dogs, the couple found a perfect match in the form of a Great Pyrenees/Irish setter mixed puppy, named Butterscotch. Since that day, Butterscotch has grown into a massive love bug who enjoys sitting on everyone’s lap and receiving optimal amounts of pats. However, Olivia and Michael nearly lost their gentle giant after he stepped in a puddle that was exposed to a live wire during a walk and was electrocuted. Butterscotch’s electrifying emergency and miraculous recovery have earned him the title of December’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.
Olivia and Michael adopted Butterscotch (nicknamed Butters) after he was rescued from an animal shelter and placed in foster care. The family began their bond in Chicago, but soon made the seven hour road trip to start their new life in Minneapolis.
“Michael travels frequently for work so having a dog in our family was a necessity, and we couldn’t have asked for a better companion that Butters,” said Olivia. “He’s the cuddliest dog in the world and generally loves everyone. Minneapolis is a dog-friendly city, and he makes friends everywhere he goes. His only flaw is his addiction to peanut butter, which he’s managed to steal out of the cabinet a few times.”
On the day of the incident, the family had traveled back to Chicago for the holidays. After a long drive, the trio arrived at a friend’s residence in the city. Standing between their destination was a short walk through a gate and past a parking lot. The ground was wet from a fresh snow fall in the days prior. As they walked through the opening of the gate, Butters let out a loud cry.
“As we were walking Butter just stopped and yelped,” said Olivia. “I thought I had possibly stepped on his tail, but then he took a few more steps and let out the most horrible sound I’ve ever heard. He dropped to the floor, and we knew something was seriously wrong.”
Unbeknownst to the family, Butters had just walked through a puddle that was in contact with and exposed electrical wire. The Pyrenees mix’s body instantly seized, and he collapsed. Butters fell to his side and out of the electric puddle. Olivia instantly reached down to console him, but Butters immediately went into shock, latching his jaws onto Olivia’s arm and losing control of his bladder.
“I had no idea what was going on,” said Olivia. “I could tell he wasn’t trying to bite me and that it was a reaction to whatever was happening to him. People around us knew something was wrong and ran over to help.”
A few moments later, Butters rose to his feet with a petrified look on his face and rested while the group tended to him. Without wasting a minute, Olivia called a local veterinarian seeking help and described the situation in full detail. The veterinarian responded by asking Olivia to check on the bottom of Butters’ paws.
“When we checked Butters’ paw pads, they were raw and bright red,” said Olivia. “The veterinarian informed me that it sounded like Butters had suffered from an electrical shock and that we needed to get him to an emergency room right away. I was completely shocked.”
Upon hearing the news, Michael immediately lifted Butters into the car, and the trio rushed to MedVet Chicago emergency veterinary hospital. The veterinary staff promptly ran tests on Butters, which revealed that his lung had filled with fluid. The staff informed Olivia that Butters was stable, but needed further treatment and would have to stay overnight for observation. With a slight sense of relief, Olivia and Michael gave Butters a temporary good-bye and drove back to the spot of the accident.
The couple retraced their steps to try to figure out what had happened. Michael then spotted an exposed wire stemming from the lighted parking lot sign the family had walked by. Olivia called city officials and appropriate measures were taken. The next morning, Butters was deemed healthy and released from the emergency hospital.
“Butterscotch is incredibly lucky to walk away from this incident alive,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “If he had been a smaller dog, he may not have survived such a jolt of electricity. Butterscotch’s story is a perfect example of why we created the Hambone Award. Unforeseen incidents can happen to our pets at any time, and being insured can help combat those unexpected expenses.”
Since the incident, Butters has made a full recovery, despite being a little nervous of car rides to new places. This family is grateful that Butters survived and are thankful of the veterinarians who helped Butters, as well as the support they received from Nationwide.
“Butters is more than just a dog to us; he’s part of our family,” said. Olivia “We’re so relieved that he has recovered without any serious damage. We’re also really thankful that we had Butters insured with Nationwide. We know crazy things can happen to pets, and it’s important to us that Butters has medical coverage just like we do.”
As the most unusual claim submitted in December, Butterscotch will be in the running for the 2017 Hambone Award. Butterscotch’s incident was one of more than 110,000 pet insurance claims received in the month of November by Nationwide, and was selected by Nationwide employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in December include a Great Dane who swallowed 12 pairs of socks, a Labrador who was gored by a deer, and mixed breed dog who was kicked by a horse. All pets considered for the Hambone Award have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.
Note to editors: Digital images of Butterscotch are available upon request. Please send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 585,000 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), Columbus, OH, 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. ©2016 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.
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, Join the Nation and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.