One normal evening, the Bashores of Pennsylvania let out their dogs to use the bathroom one last time before everyone turned in for the night. But the dogs caught trace of a muskrat in the bushes and went after it. One of the dogs, Nathan, suffered a near fatal puncture wound, but survived to later win the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.’s (VPI)  Hambone Award for most unusual insurance claim.

The VPI Award is named after a dog who got stuck inside a refrigerator one night and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. He was eventually found along with a clean-licked ham and mild case of hypothermia, but he survived. The award is to recognize all the quirky, but true, claims VPI receives.

Read the release below for the full story behind Nathan’s close call.

Original press release issued by VPI on April 25, 2012:

Robert and Michele Bashore of Pittsburgh, Penn., have been VPI policyholders for the past 22 years, but in more than two decades they have never submitted a claim quite like this. After a backyard brawl with a vicious muskrat at their vacation home in Michigan, the Bashores weren’t sure whether their miniature dachshund Nathan would pull through. The courageous canine’s confrontation caused a severe bite wound dangerously close to his jugular; an incident that has earned him the title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“Around 11 p.m., my wife opened the back door to let the dogs out. As soon as she opened it, all four of our dachshunds went tearing outside, and they were all barking,” said Robert. “She quickly followed them to the corner of the yard and realized they were attacking a muskrat. Luckily, she was able to pull the dogs off and get them back in the house. When she got back inside, she saw Nathan lying on the carpet with a pool of blood collecting around him.”

Nathan had suffered a significant puncture wound on his neck, which caused him to bleed profusely. Fearful for Nathan’s survival, his owner applied pressure to the wound and rushed him to the nearest emergency animal hospital. According to Robert, the attending veterinarian didn’t think the miniature dachshund would make it. Fortunately, a surgeon on staff was able to operate on the injured vein to prevent further bleeding. Though Nathan was brought to the hospital in critical condition, the Bashores are happy to report that he has since made a full recovery.

“It’s important to remember that a wild animal attack on your pet can happen anywhere, whether you live in a remote area or on a quiet suburban street,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Take extra precaution when a pet is exposed to wildlife, especially at night.”

Nathan’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of March by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in March included a Morkie (cross between a Maltese and a Yorkshire Terrier) that ate a snow globe; an Australian shepherd that was struck by a golf cart; and a Greater Swiss Mountain dog trampled by a moose. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in March, Nathan will be in the running for the 2012 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Major the Labrador retriever who fractured several teeth when he mistook a rock for his toy during a game of fetch, and Tomis the cocker spaniel who had a whole almond surgically removed from his nose. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2012 nominees, visit VPIHamboneAward.com.

Photos courtesy of Robert and Michele Bashore

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