Farm Accident Couldn’t Keep Indiana Dog Down

Hambone Award winner Charlie the Lab is back home on her Indianapolis farm after she was run over and nearly killed.

Charlie and owner Jessica Parsons reunite with the dog’s Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital medical team. From left are Parsons and Drs. Tim Bentley, Amy Fauber, Rebecca Lee, Talisha Moore and Katrina Stewart.

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.

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A run-in with farm equipment nearly cost Charlie her life, but her survival brought national recognition.

The Labrador retriever this month won the sixth annual VPI Hambone Award, which Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. hands out for the most unusual insurance claim of the year.

After falling under equipment being towed on the family farm, the Indianapolis canine appeared to have suffered no more than cuts to her tail. The next day, when Charlie couldn’t stand, owner Jessica Parsons figured the injuries were much worse.

“I was so worried about Charlie, I knew she was in pain,” Parsons said.

A veterinarian referred Charlie to the Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in West Lafayette, Ind., where specialists diagnosed a fractured spine and internal bleeding from a damaged kidney. What followed were surgeries to stabilize her spine and remove the kidney.

The medical care and expenses ran into five figures, but Parsons was reimbursed more than $10,400 through her insurance policy with Brea, Calif.-based VPI.

Charlie, whose rehabilitation included learning to walk again, was presented with a bronze trophy and a gift bag filled with toys, treats and pet supplies.

“I’m incredibly proud of how hard Charlie has fought to recover,” Parsons said.

VPI rewarded Purdue’s lifesaving efforts by donating $10,000 to the hospital to cover medical care for pets whose owners cannot afford it.

Twelve Hambone Award finalists were selected out of more than 1 million insurance claims received by VPI over the past year. Pet lovers picked their favorites, casting more than 8,000 votes in late September at VPIHamboneAward.com.

The other top winners were:

  • Second place: Louie, a mixed-breed dog from Louisville, Ky., who was treated at Gailor Animal Hospital after swallowing a diaper, a tube of diaper rash cream, a bottle of baby lotion and a children’s book.
  • Third place: Jack, a Jack Russell terrier from Ashburn, Va., who was carried away by a large, hungry snowy owl. He escaped with multiple injuries and was treated at The Life Centre in Leesburg, Va.
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The Hambone Award is named in honor of a dog that ate a Thanksgiving ham after being stranded inside a refrigerator.

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