Voting Begins for Nationwide’s Annual Hambone Award

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For many people all over the world, pets are considered to be an important part of the family. Of course, when a family member is sick or injured, they must be treated by a doctor; or in the case of our beloved pets, a veterinarian. What if Fido’s most recent run-in with the weed-whacker had the potential to garner national accolades and help other pets whose families might not be able to afford medical care? That is exactly the case with Nationwide’s most “Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year” competition.

This year, the company scoured its database made up of over 600,000 insured pets and sifted through over 1 million insurance claims to find 12 candidates qualified to win the Hambone Award for 2017. The award is given to the pet for the most outlandish claim. Furthermore, the veterinary clinic that treated the winner will receive $10,000 from Nationwide through the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat animals whose families cannot afford their medical costs.

It is important to note that each of the nominees made a complete recovery. To learn more about each of their stories, continue reading below. You can vote for your favorite story now through October 4 by following this link.


Tessa, Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Mix

Hometown: North Kingstown, Rhode Island

One day, Tessa’s owners were gearing up to complete some yard work which included removing a tree from their backyard. Her owner said it was just like any other day, with Tessa relaxing with her toys nearby. However, the mechanical growl of a chainsaw startled her, and she quickly sprang into action, running headlong toward the source of the noise.

Although her owner was able to keep Tessa from directly biting the blades, her front legs sustained deep cuts. Surgery was necessary to properly close the injuries, but thankfully Tessa has made a full recovery!

2. Denali

Denali photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Husky Mix

Hometown: Treasure Island, Florida

Denali is an adventure-loving dog who travels across the U.S. with her owner, Laura. At the time of the accident, Laura was visiting family in Florida. After escaping from the backyard, Denali decided to go swimming in a small pond known to be home to a large alligator. Laura said witnesses told her as soon as Denali jumped in, the reptile latched onto her leg. However, the husky mix bravely fought back and managed to escape.

Laura took her beloved companion to Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Hospital where the staff informed her Denali is the only dog they know of to survive an alligator attack.

3. King

King, Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Bull Mastiff

Hometown: Lake Charles, Louisiana

At a whopping 150 pounds, King is a big boy, and along with a big dog comes a big appetite. Brian, the dog’s owner, said his family had to make sure to put things out of King’s reach because of his propensity to eat anything and everything in sight. Apparently, this included spatulas.

After Brian’s wife finished icing a cake one evening, King took the opportunity to scarf an entire spatula down his massive gullet. Of course, within a couple of days, he began to exhibit symptoms of a problem. After a trip to the vet and several tests that led to an operation and having over a foot of his intestines removed, King was finally on the road to recovery. Brian said his family was relieved to have their gentle giant back home.

4. Levi

Levi Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Labrador

Hometown: Huntington Beach, California

After several failed adoption attempts and being moved from foster home to foster home, Levi finally found a forever home with Dawna McNaughton. However, because of his rough past, the chocolate Lab suffered from severe separation anxiety. McNaughton’s own lab, Maggie, helped ease the effects of this anxiety, however, when she passed away very suddenly, Levi was left without the comfort of his friend. McNaughton said her pup’s anxiety was so out of control, he lost over 20 pounds within two months.

All this stress culminated one day when McNaughton went to put on a pair of pajama pants and found the legs had been completely chewed off. With no trace of the missing material in sight, she assumed one of her dogs had eaten them. The next day, she realized it was Levi when he had trouble using the bathroom and began to vomit.

Thankfully, after rushing to the vet and being given a number of medications, Levi was able to pass the obstruction. Today, he has found a new friend in the form of another Labrador puppy McNaughton has adopted and hasn’t been tempted to eat any more clothing items.

5. Chuter

Chuter Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Lab/Irish Setter Mix

Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska

What started as a routine potty break before bed nearly ended in disaster for Chuter, a Lab/Irish Setter mix belonging to Delmar and Jan Johnson. When Jan called for the family’s two dogs to come inside but Chuter never returned, she said she knew something was wrong.

It was only after hours of searching and worrying that the part-time service animal finally managed to stumble home. However, he was in terrible condition. Unbeknownst to Jan, Chuter had been attacked by a female moose. The wild animal had shown no mercy, shattering several teeth and breaking one of his legs.

After surgery, Chuter faced many months of recovery. Today, he can finally walk short distances and is once again performing his service dog duties.

6. Ruby

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Golden Retriever

Hometown: Lakewood, Washington

Ruby and her sister, Olivia, were brought into the home of Tome and Elayne Falk when the couple realized they missed the companionship of a four-legged friend. Each morning, Elayne would take the pups from the third level of their home to the bottom floor via a small elevator. However, on one particular morning, the sisters were especially energetic and in a series of unfortunate events Ruby’s nose broke through the elevator’s gate and became lodged between the ceiling and the elevator floor.

The young pup’s nose was crushed, Elayne said blood was everywhere. However, Ruby’s age worked in her favor. The vet said surgery would not be necessary, and although she was unable to eat solid food for quite some time, Ruby only needed to wear a soft brace for several months. Today, the family said the only mark left from the ordeal is a crooked doggie smile.

7. Butterscotch

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Irish Setter/Great Pyrenees Mix

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

When Butterscotch, fondly referred to as “Butters,” visited Chicago with his owners Olivia and Michael, it was supposed to be just an ordinary trip to see friends. However, the situation took a scary turn when he stepped in a puddle charged with an exposed wire. Olivia said Butters immediately let out a sharp cry before falling to the ground and seizing. After calling a vet and relaying the events, Olivia and her boyfriend rushed their precious pet to the clinic.

Thankfully, Butters survived his shocking encounter and only needed to stay at the vet overnight for observation.

8. Raja

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Golden Retriever

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

Raja was adopted by the Nigam family when just a puppy. Although the majority of family members were excited to bring him home, Manika was hesitant. Having never been around dogs, she believed Raja would eventually become aggressive. However, after a few weeks, the two developed a close bond.

One day after running errands, Manika returned to the Nigan’s home to find it filled with thick, black smoke. Frantically, she plunged into the darkness calling for Raja. Finally, she found him but said it was obvious he was unconscious. Somehow, she managed to throw the large dog through the now open back door before finally escaping herself. Thankfully, once in the fresh air Raja perked up and does not suffer any severe complications today.

9. Ruger

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Border Collie Mix

Hometown: Fairfield, California

Ruger was gifted to his owner David Ritchey after friends saw how much the loss of his previous dog affected him. It did not take long before Ritchey and Ruger became best friends.

Fast forward a few months, and the ranch Ritchey works for acquired a new golf-cart. One day, a calamity occurred when a neighbor hit Rugy with the cart and it came to a halt directly on top of him. With the help of the volunteer fire department, the cart was removed and the border collie mix was rushed to the vet. Amazingly, Ruger made it out of the incident virtually unscathed.

10. Rooster

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Hound Mix

Hometown: Scranton, Pennsylvania

Rooster has been the companion of Jen Hawker for eight years. One day, as Hawker was walking all of her dogs, a terrible accident took place. She allowed her pets some time off-leash. Suddenly, she heard a sharp yelp of pain. She called the dogs back to her, and they all returned except for Rooster. It did not take long for Hawker to realize something was seriously wrong.

When she finally managed to get her beloved pet to the vet, they discovered Rooster had been impaled by a large stick. The stick was disturbingly close to his lungs, so surgery was needed to remove it. Amazingly, Hawker’s fun-loving canine did not suffer any long-term complications.

11. Star

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Breed: Cattle Dog Mix

Hometown: South Bend, Indiana

Ever since Star came into Rick Frankiewicz’s life, he could tell you two things about her: she loves long walks, and she is remarkably clumsy. These two things culminated in a near disaster one day when during one of their early morning walks Star fell into an exposed manhole.

After several hours and the aid of some heavy equipment, Star was finally rescued. Thankfully, the only injuries she received were a chipped tooth and a sprained leg.

12. Muffy

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Photo Courtesy of Nationwide

Hometown: Sylmar, California

For the past 16 years, Muffy has been the companion of Michael Rodriguez. A key part of their relationship comes when Rodriguez returns home from work each day and receives a greeting from his loyal feline. One day, Rodriguez said Muffy was not in his usual spot. Initially, this was not concerning as the friendly feline enjoys exploring the neighborhood, however, several hours passed and there was still no sign of him. Rodriguez said he began to worry when his pet, a diabetic, missed his nightly insulin shot.

Muffy was finally found the next day. He had fallen down an enormous well used for industrial work and now lay at the bottom, unmoving and seemingly lifeless. Thankfully, after being rescued and rushed to the animal hospital, Rodriguez’s lifelong companion was given a dose of insulin and made a full recovery.


Nationwide’s Hambone Nominee Gallery