Most people’s diets contain too much sugar. But for Sugar, the Jack Russell terrier, the problem was too much turtle. After meeting a wild turtle in the back yard, Sugar decided to have her new friend for dinner. Sugar’s method for disposing of the turtle’s shell – eating it – left her with a small piece of the shell lodged in her nasal cavity. After weeks of respiratory difficulty and inconclusive X-rays, veterinarians performed surgery and found the piece of shell, which Sugar’s owner, Ginger Reynolds, now has in a small glass tube.
Reynolds’ claim for Sugar’s surgery was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of July by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance. The claim was considered among other unusual medical claims submitted in July and, at the end of the month, VPI employees voted Sugar’s claim the most bizarre of the bunch.
Though undeniably unique, Sugar’s claim was not without competition. Honorable mentions included Louie, a one-year-old French bulldog who ingested more than 50 tea light candles; Ember, a six-year-old mixed breed dog who chased and caught her own tail, breaking it in several places; Bubba, a two-year-old Boston terrier who was shut into a recliner; and Oakley, a ten-month-old Labrador who ate a box of disposable razors. All of the pets with a claim considered for the distinction have fully recovered and received insurance reimbursement for eligible treatment costs.
As the most unusual claim submitted in July, Sugar’s claim will be placed in the running for VPI’s first Hambone Award. Each month, VPI will nominate a claim and in July 2009 ask the public to vote for the most unusual claim of the year. The Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to find him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia.