Wow! These pets did what?! From a Boxer who swallowed a skewer to a Labrador who ate a beehive, Nationwide insurance looks at unusual pet claims

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According to the Nationwide website, Nationwide associates noticed some of the hundreds of thousands of pet insurance claims being reviewed involved rather unusual circumstances.

There was, for example, a pooch who was carried away by an owl and a cat who survived a three-story fall.

Inspired by these unique stories, in 2009 Nationwide created the annual Hambone Award® to honor the most unusual pet insurance claim of the year.

The Hambone award was originally named after a dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator.

The Hambone Award also honors veterinary practices and provides them additional funds for pets in need.

This year’s five Hambone Award finalists were chosen from millions of claims on Nationwide’s database of more than 750,000 insured pets.

The winning animal will receive a basket of goodies, courtesy of Nationwide.

And the nominees are…

  • Tippy, an athletic Border Collie mix from Arroyo Grande, California, who barreled into a steel trailer hitch while playing fetch and injured her snout.
  • Jasper, at cat from Leander, Texas, who was treated for heat exposure after narrowly escaping a dryer disaster (he got stuck in the fluff cycle).
  • Frank, a Rottweiler from Keyport, New Jersey, who found himself in a prickly situation after sniffing a porcupine.
  • Minnow, an adventurous cat from Alpharetta, Georgia, who disappeared for 21 days, finally returning home sick with a broken rib.
  • Max, the Great Pyrenees from San Marcos, Texas, who got too close to a hog trap.

You can vote for one of the contestants between Oct. 7 – Oct. 13 at

Past winners include:

  • Kismet, a tiny but mighty Jack Russell terrier who sustained 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;
  • 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;
  • Winnie, a mixed-breed dog who swallowed two pounds of uncooked onion rings;
  • and Ziva and Zeus, German shepherds who went missing for 22 days in an abandoned missile silo.

The winning pet claim this year will be decided by a public vote Oct. 7 – Oct. 13 at

All five veterinary practices that treated the “Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year” finalists will receive a portion of the $30,000 Nationwide-funded award through the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat pets whose owners could otherwise not afford treatment. The winning practice will be awarded $10,000. The runner up will receive $7,000. Third place will earn $5,000. Fourth and fifth place will collect $4,000.

“Our annual Hambone Award is a great reminder that pets can make remarkable recoveries because of the diligence of their owners and the incredible skills of their treating veterinarians,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “These veterinary practices will now have the opportunity to save more animals in need without as much financial concern.”

All nominated pets have made full recoveries and received Nationwide insurance reimbursements for eligible veterinary expenses.

Below are brief summaries of the unusual claims nominated for the 2019 Hambone Award. For a more detailed account of each story, photos of the nominees, or to vote (Oct. 7-Oct. 13), visit

About Nationwide pet insurance
With more than 750,000 insured pets, pet insurance from 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 relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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 (2016); National Casualty Company (all other states), Columbus, OH, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2016). 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

Additional source:

Featured photo: Rooster, a previous Hambone award recipient.

Update: Minnow, the Georgia cat who disappeared for almost a month, but ended up home safely, was awared the 2019 Hambone award. For more, visit:


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