Last month Balboa the one year-old Pug was enjoying a late night walk with his owners Eyad and Shereen Bahhur of Metairie, Louisiana, when he spotted the Southern Walking Stick camouflaged within the branches of a bush. Unfortunately for Balboa, Southern Walking Sticks defend themselves by spraying venom directly into the eyes of their "attacker".
"Balboa was sniffing around like he usually does," said Eyad, "but then he jumped back all of a sudden. He was foaming at the mouth and wouldn’t open his eyes. We took him inside the house and rinsed his eyes out, but he was still squinting."
Within hours of the accident, the Bahhurs took Balboa to their veterinarian. The veterinarian hadn’t had much experience with Balboa’s type of injury and recommended the Bahhurs see a specialist an hour and half’s drive away in Biloxi, Mississippi. The veterinary specialist treated Balboa for corneal ulcers that had developed in both eyes as a result of the toxins in the insect venom. If left untreated, the dog would have likely lost one if not both eyes. Balboa was given close to a dozen prescriptions including eye drops that required application every hour on the hour. Eyad took a week off work just to stay at home to put the drops in Balboa’s eyes.
For the next week, the pug was essentially blind. "Basically, he did a lot of sitting," Eyad said. "I had to carry him everywhere, and it would be another three weeks before he was himself again. It’s a really rare case. This was definitely a time where I’m glad we had pet insurance."
Ellie’s insurance claim was one of 80,000 insurance claims received by the nation’s largest pet insurer, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), in July. The claim was considered along with other uncommon medical claims submitted in July and selected by VPI as the most unusual of the bunch. As the most unusual claim submitted in July, the claim will be placed in the running for the 2011 VPI Hambone Award (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). Other honorable mentions in July included a pit bull that ate a jellyfish, a Yorkshire Terrier that fell into a bucket of bleach and a Maltese Terrier that got it’s toe stuck in a VCR tape.
Photo courtesy VPI Pet Insurance