Cast Your Vote for the 2011 VPI Hambone Award!

From the dog who ate more than 100 rocks to the cat who chased a fly onto a hot wood stove, VPI has received a host of remarkable medical claims. For the third consecutive year, we’re gearing up to bestow the coveted title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Year” to one of our nearly half a million insured pets. We’ve nominated the 12 most outrageous incidents we saw throughout the year; now it’s up to you to determine which perilous pet will capture the prestigious VPI Hambone Award.

Named originally for a dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in the refrigerator, the VPI Hambone Award has since been presented for two equally unusual claims. Past winners include Ellie, a Labrador retriever who gobbled up an entire beehive and its thousands of inhabitants and Lulu, a hungry bulldog who swallowed 15 pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of basketball.

Without further ado, I’m pleased to announce the 12 unusual claims nominated for the 2011 Hambone Award. All nominated pets made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible treatment expenses. For a more detailed account of each claim, photos or videos of the nominees, or to place your vote for the 2011 VPI Hambone Award, click on the names listed below:

• July 2010 – Sadie the golden retriever (St. Petersburg, Fla.). A casual stroll through the neighborhood proved “otter” than most when Sadie was surprised (and bitten) by a feisty river-dweller.

• August 2010 – Balboa the pug (Metairie, La.). Balboa might save curiosity for the cats after an encounter with a venomous bug left him with corneal ulcers in both eyes.

• September 2010 – Moose the English mastiff (Green Valley, Ariz.). Moose’s already massive head nearly doubled in size after being kicked in the noggin by a defensive mule.

• October 2010 – Howie the toy poodle (Monroe, N.Y.). This troublesome pup racked up more than 15 visits to the veterinarian before his first birthday. If that seems hard to swallow, try being Howie, for whom one of those trips was to remove an acorn lodged in his windpipe.

• November 2010 – Tobey the Labrador retriever (Charlotte, N.C.). Some might say that Tobey has a bit of a drinking problem, especially after a play date with the sprinkler sent this waterlogged Lab to the veterinarian.

• December 2010 – Gus the Labrador retriever (Cottage Grove, Wis.). A little over-eating always happens during the holidays, but five pounds of cookies in one sitting is excessive for any stomach. Gus learned the hard way that devouring one-eighth of your body weight impacts more than just the scale.

• January 2011 – Chico the Chihuahua (Crystal Lake, Ill.). This 4-pound Chihuahua found himself caught in the middle when a Great Horned Owl challenged his owner to a game of tug of war using Chico’s leash.

• February 2011 – Teuer the Jack Russell terrier (Mount Pleasant, Mich.). After a failed attempt to dive under a closing garage door, Teuer has given up his dream of becoming a stunt double for Indiana Jones.

• March 2011– Eddy the domestic shorthair (Belmont, Mass.). A housefly chase turned into a heated pursuit when Eddy leapt in the air and landed on top of a hot wood stove, burning all four paws in the process.

• April 2011 – Stella Artois the Labrador retriever (Ramsey, N.J.). While a healthy serving of vegetables is generally encouraged, Stella learned there are exceptions to every rule. This pup’s dumpster dive for green beans left her with a tin can lodged firmly on her jaw.

• May 2011 – Harley the dachshund (Ventura, Calif.). Snack time in the sunshine was no picnic for Harley when a stubborn seagull swooped in to steal his meal and wreak havoc.

• June 2011 – Harley the pug (Manville, R.I.). Harley’s eyes may have been bigger than his stomach, but not much bigger than the 100 rocks he ingested while his owner was away.

Voting for the 2011 VPI Hambone Award will be open to the public Sept. 6-20, 2011 and the winner will be announced on Sept. 21, 2011. For regular updates on the 2011 contest, you can follow VPI on Twitter, like us on Facebook or sign up to receive emails on all things Hambone.