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Vote for the most unusual #petstory

Nationwide’s 14th annual Hambone Award® honors pets with harrowing survival “tails”

Accidents happen, and when it’s a beloved pet that is injured, it can be unsettling and potentially costly. Since 2009, Nationwide®, the nation’s largest provider of pet health insurance, has annually presented the Hambone Award to bring awareness to the unique and just plain wild things that can happen to our pets – and how pet insurance plays a role in caring for them.

This year’s finalists survived animal encounters, ingestions, frightening accidents in a clothes dryer and a city drainpipe, and other perilous pet predicaments. The Hambone Award was originally named after a dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator. Voting for this year’s most unusual pet insurance claim is underway now through October 17, 2022.  

Meet the 2022 Hambone Award finalists    

  • Casper, a Siamese mix from Phoenix, Arizona, who loves to nestle in warm clothes, took a tumble in the dryer when he was inadvertently (and briefly) included with a load of clothes. Despite being overheated and biting his tongue while being tossed around, Casper did not sustain other serious injuries.   
  • Dublin, a mini Australian shepherd from Satellite Beach, Florida, who enjoys running the beach, stepped on a Portuguese man o’ war that was hidden under some seaweed near the shore. Dublin exhibited some concerning symptoms with her paw but, fortunately, the stinger of the jellyfish-like creature had not become embedded and Dublin only required minor medical attention.
  • Ellie, a Goldendoodle from New York City, got her tail clipped when a heavy steel door quickly slammed shut between her and her owner. Unfortunately, part of Ellie’s tail was severed and could not be saved; however, she has made a full recovery following two successful surgeries.   
  • Maeve, a chocolate Labrador retriever from Madison, Wisconsin, voraciously hollowed out the marrow of a bone and somehow got her jaw stuck inside it. Thankfully, the veterinary team was able to extract the bone without surgery and Maeve resumed her normal activities.  
  • Nines, a snuggly snake from Davis, California, slithered up on his owner’s wrist and got tangled in a bracelet. On the way to the vet, Nines freed himself, but some disturbing cracking sounds caused his owner to fear that Nines had broken bones. A trip to the emergency vet ended with reassurances that he was just fine.
  •  Orangina, a curious cat from Newton, Massachusetts, wandered away from home and returned covered in spray foam insulation. The chemical foam hardened on her fur, but the quick-acting veterinary team was able to free her from her foam cast and Orangina was on the road to recovery.  
  • Rafa, a Siberian mix cat from Seattle, Washington, snuck away from home and ended up trapped about 45 feet down a drainpipe. A massive rescue effort required the services of the fire department, animal rescue, Seattle Public Utilities, Roto-Rooter and many others. After a successful extraction, Rafa was treated for severe hypothermia and other complications and has since recovered.
  • Rex, a Shih Tzu from Livonia, Michigan, swallowed a wishbone when kids at a party innocently shared some chicken with him. Surgery was required to remove the bone from a sensitive area of his throat and Rex has made a complete recovery.
  • Rocket, a deaf terrier mix from Pembroke Pines, Florida, swallowed his brother’s tennis ball. Surgery was needed to remove the ingested object. Thanks to Rocket’s doctors, he is back to normal.  
  • Rue, a cattle dog-retriever mix from Royersford, Pennsylvania, tried to accept a treat tossed by her owner but it ended up in her nose instead of her mouth. Rue’s family was unaware of any issue until they noticed her swatting her nose and breathing unusually. Thankfully, one strong sneeze is all it took for Rue to expel the treat on her own.  
  • Russell, a mixed breed dog from Granada Hills, California, cracked several front teeth after running full speed into a concrete patio step on his way to excitedly greet his human sister. His injuries required surgical extraction of the cracked teeth. Russell is fine and back to his curmudgeonly self.  
  • Shadow, a Doberman from North Kingstown, Rhode Island, stumbled into a backyard battle with a raccoon and sustained a wound while likely trying to protect his canine sister. After some medical attention and a few stitches, Shadow quickly recovered.

All nominated pets have made full recoveries and received reimbursements for eligible veterinary expenses from Nationwide® pet insurance. For a more detailed account of each story, photos of the nominees, and a link to vote Oct. 4-17, 2022, visit HamboneAward.com.

“There’s nothing veterinary healthcare teams love more than seeing pets go home healthy and happy, and at Nationwide we’re proud to help make that happen,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide.  “Through the Hambone Award, we highlight some incredible stories and celebrate those happy endings. It’s also a great opportunity to inform pet families of some common and not-so-common health hazards, and to celebrate the incredible work of veterinary healthcare teams.”

Finalists for this year’s award were determined following a review of nearly 3.4 million claims submitted by Nationwide members over a recent 12-month span from across the company’s database of more than 1.1 million insured pets.

One grand prize winner will receive the coveted Hambone Award trophy, a $1,000 gift card and a $1,000 donation in their name to an approved pet charity of their choice. Two runners-up will each receive a $500 gift card plus a $500 charity donation.

To explore pet health insurance coverage for dogs, cats and many avian and exotic pets, visit PetInsurance.com.