Lulu the Pacifier-Eating Bulldog Receives First VPI Hambone Award

Public Selects the Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year

Nov 03, 2009, 09:00 ET from Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.

BREA, Calif., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- One look at the X-ray and Lulu's veterinarian knew this 2-year-old English bulldog's case was far from usual. The radiograph revealed a large foreign mass in Lulu's stomach and, upon close inspection, the outline of what appeared to be several pacifiers. Post-surgery, the contents of Lulu's stomach--15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap, and piece of a basketball--filled half of a one-gallon plastic bag.

Lulu's subsequent pet health insurance claim was one of 12 claims nominated by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, for the first-ever VPI Hambone Award. Created to recognize the year's most unusual pet health insurance claim, the VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham before being found with the licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia.

From Sept. 1 through Sept. 14, more than 3,400 people voted online at for the pet insurance claim they found most unusual. At the close of voting, Lulu was the clear winner with nearly three times more votes than the first runner up. As the winner, Lulu, owned by Jennifer and David Zwart of Warson Woods, Mo., received a bronze trophy in the shape of a ham, a gift basket and an upcoming appearance on the nationally-syndicated Rachael Ray Show.

Second Place - Sugar, a Jack Russell terrier owned by Ginger Reynolds of Ocean Springs, Miss. Sugar snacked on a wild turtle that had wandered into her yard. In her hasty consumption, Sugar managed to get part of the turtle's shell stuck in her nasal cavity. Initially, Sugar's symptoms had veterinarians thinking she had a severe cold until an X-ray revealed the nasal obstruction. After surgery to remove the piece of shell, Sugar made a complete recovery.

Third Place - Scooter, a Siamese cat owned by Margaret Stedt of San Clemente, Calif. Stedt brought Scooter to the veterinarian for recurring seizures. As a technician prepped Scooter for an MRI, she noticed a sewing needle and thread lodged far back in Scooter's throat. The sewing needle had pierced the back of Scooter's tongue, the top of her throat and part of her brain, causing the intermittent seizures. Once the needle was removed, Scooter made a full recovery in a matter of days.

Other pet insurance claims nominated over the course of the last year included those resulting from a Labrador that suffered an allergic reaction after fetching a sea urchin, a Brittany spaniel that chewed the gel inserts out of his owner's bra, a Belgian sheepdog that ran into a wheelbarrow while chasing a squirrel, a Labrador that inhaled a fishhook, a German shorthaired pointer attacked by wild javelinas, and a French bulldog that underwent surgery for a migrating corndog stick. Like Lulu, all pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses. Full stories for all 2009 nominees can be found at

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency is the nation's oldest and largest pet health insurance company and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies. Providing pet owners with peace of mind since 1982, the company is committed to being the trusted choice of America's pet lovers and an advocate of pet health education. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional CareGuard(SM) coverage for routine care is also available.

Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,000 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company in Madison, Wisconsin. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.