VPI Hambone Award: Saluting the heroes of emergency care

Over the 30-plus years since Veterinary Pet Insurance started the pet health insurance industry in the United States, we’ve seen some very unusual claims.  What many of these claims had in common was that without outstanding veterinary care, many of the pets in all manner of accidents would never have survived.

A few years ago, inspired by one especially interesting claim, we decided to celebrate the survivors and the veterinarians who saved these animals.  And with that, the Hambone Award was invented.

Why “Hambone”? The name comes from the story of a VPI-insured dog who somehow was closed into a refrigerator while he was snacking on a ham intended for Thanksgiving dinner. The dog was later discovered with the remains of that ham — the hambone — and a mild case of hypothermia. The thought of a little dog, a big ham and happy ending so tickled everyone at VPI that we created the annual award, and named it in honor of that story.

Each month since, VPI employees select one interesting claim as the nominee, chosen from the tens of thousands that come in every month. All nominees considered for the award are pets who have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursement for eligible expenses. We feature one nominee every month, and then let everyone vote for the annual winner of the Hambone Award.

Every month we are also sure to find out more about the veterinary team that saved the nominee, and we do that to make sure credit is given where credit is due. But that’s not all: The animal hospital that treats the eventual VPI Hambone Award winner will receive a $10,000 VPI-funded award through the Veterinary Care Foundation to treat pets whose owners could not otherwise afford treatment.

I’ll have more on the voting when it opens Sept. 16, and more on the practices involved in these life-saving efforts over the last year.  In the meantime, you can review the contenders on our Hambone Award website.

You can also read my feature for Vetstreet on a few pets who got into their trouble during the summer.  I had some fun going back into the Hambone files and pulling it together, so I hope you enjoy it.