Nationwide® to Honor Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year

Public Vote to Decide Winner of 10th Annual Hambone Award®

BREA, Calif. - After reviewing nearly 1.5 million pet insurance claims received over the past year, Nationwide has nominated 12 worthy candidates for the 2018 Hambone Award. Each year, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance searches through its database of more than 700,000 insured pets to honor the most “Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year.” The winner will be decided by a public vote Sept. 25 – Oct. 8 at

In addition, the veterinary practice 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.

From a pair of German shepherds who were found after 21 days trapped in an abandoned missile silo to a cat who went through a dryer’s fluff cycle, all 12 nominees have uniquely harrowing tales. All nominated pets have made full recoveries and received Nationwide insurance reimbursements for eligible veterinary expenses. Below are brief summaries of the 12 unusual claims nominated for the 2018 Hambone Award. For a more detailed account of each story, photos of the nominees, or to vote (Sept. 25-Oct. 8), visit

Hambone Award Nominees:

  • Howard the golden retriever (San Diego, California). This tech hungry hound swallowed an electronics charger.
  • Maddy the Labrador (Charlotte, North Carolina). Water loving Maddy found herself playing on the shores of danger when she was suddenly stung by a sting ray.
  • Cheddar the Labrador mix (Fairfield, Connecticut). When a birthday brunch got smoky, this cheesy canine found himself under a falling chandelier.
  • Ginger the mixed-medium hair cat (Kirkland, Washington). Ginger was attacked by a small wild animal which caused him to run up a nearby tree for safety, only to come tumbling down.
  • Zoe the Maine coon cat (Miami Beach, Florida). Zoe nearly lost her life after falling off a fifth-floor balcony.
  • Skye the German shorthaired pointer (Dublin, Ohio). Skye’s athletic drive steered her into a tennis court collision that resulted in two broken ribs and air around her lungs.
  • Sugar Cookie the Siberian cat (Mooresville, North Carolina). Sugar Cookie got overheated after getting stuck in a clothes dryer during the fluff cycle.
  • Blitzen the dachshund (Carle Place, New York). Blitzen went on a “foodie” adventure, chewing a hole through the kitchen wall.
  • Dottie the Irish setter (Irwin, Pennsylvania). Dottie had an electrifying fall into a heated pond that shocked both Dottie and her owner.
  • Ziva and Zeus the German shepherds (Medical Lake, Washington). The duo went missing for 22 days, after finding their way into an abandoned missile silo.
  • Bentley the golden retriever (Belmont, Massachusetts). Bentley found herself in a sticky situation after accidentally hot gluing her eye shut.
  • Colbie the husky (Redlands, California). Colbie took dumpster diving to an extreme after knocking over a garbage can and eating six pounds of chicken and chicken bones.

Originally named after a dog who 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: Kismet, a Jack Russell terrier who sustained major stab wounds while fighting off a home intruder; Curtis, a Boxer who swallowed a barbecue skewer that disappeared in his body and nearly ended his life a year later; Charlie, a Labrador retriever who became entangled with a tractor; Ellie, a Labrador retriever who gobbled up an entire beehive and its thousands of inhabitants; Lulu, a hungry bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball; Harley, a pug who ate and subsequently passed more than 100 rocks; Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix who survived a fierce squabble with a skunk; and Winnie, a mixed-breed dog who swallowed two pounds of uncooked onion rings.

“Our annual Hambone Award is a great reminder that pet injuries are unpredictable and often come at the most inopportune times,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “The stories of our nominees not only bring to light the unusual ways that our pets can be injured, but also showcase the amazing advances in veterinary care. These pets all made remarkable recoveries because of the diligence of their owners and the incredible skills of their treating veterinarians.”

About Nationwide pet insurance

Nationwide pet health insurance 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. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2017); National Casualty Company (all other states), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2017). Agency of Record: DVM Insurance Agency.

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

About Nationwide

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

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