Photo gallery: The furry faces of pet insurance (Sponsored by VPI)

Ariel, Bayley, and Major "speak" about pet insurance experiences and the veterinarians who came to their rescue when they tangled with a garage door, a 55-gallon aquarium, and a rock.
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Mar 04, 2013
By dvm360.com staff
Photos courtesy of VPI. All pets were nominees for the VPI Hambone Award.



When a garage door tried to flatten Ariel, a 7-pound Himalayan cat from San Raphael, Calif., this plucky pet pushed back.

It happened one sunny day when Ariel’s owner, Scott Carter, closed the garage door after gardening. A panicked neighbor called almost immediately, screaming to open up the garage door because Ariel was trapped underneath and howling. Scott quickly opened the garage door and let Ariel inside. She limped, collapsed, and limped again. The Carters rushed Ariel to the animal hospital.

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Ariel underwent a series of radiographs and blood work, which revealed damage to the liver as a result of the garage door’s pressure on the abdomen. She required overnight monitoring by hospital staff. Ariel was stable enough to return home the next day, and pet insurance covered a significant reimbursement for what the owners described as a costly bill.

“I imagine Ariel’s insurance made it easier for the client to approve the diagnostics and treatment I recommended, improving the quality of care Ariel was able to receive,” says Dr. Blaise Waniewski, the veterinarian who treated Ariel. “I had to sign paperwork regarding Ariel's diagnosis, but that was it. It was very easy.

“Being crushed by a garage door is not something I've commonly seen, but unfortunately pets find themselves in trouble all of the time.”

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Bayley, a 14-month-old Labrador from Lothian, Md., tackled a glass aquarium—and won.

Not long ago, Bayley’s family returned home to discover the 55-gallon aquarium that housed their 30-year-old tortoise was shattered. They also found a 2-inch long gash on Bayley’s chest. They soon realized that their energetic pooch had run chest-first into the glass.

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At the veterinary practice, Bayley was sedated and his laceration was closed with surgical staples. He made a full recovery. The owners said his accident reinforced their belief in the value of their pet insurance policy, and they appreciated the ability to take care of their pets, no matter what.

Dr. Ania Langrall, who treated the rambunctious retriever, says Bayley was a very lucky dog, because his injuries were relatively minor. But this isn’t always the case.

“We certainly see Bayley-style trouble all the time. Young dogs—especially Labradors, it seems—throw themselves heart and soul into whatever they’re doing and stop paying attention to their surroundings,” she says. “It really is like a breath of fresh air to hear owners say the words, ‘I have pet insurance.’ It means we can focus on treating the pet to the best of our medical ability. I definitely wish we could hear those words more often.”

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Major, a 1-year-old Labrador retriever that lives in Minneapolis, Minn., took a bite out of a rock—and the rock bit back.

Major was engaged in his daily exercise of retrieving a dummy bird thrown by his owner, Joseph Burns, when their routine took an unexpected turn. The eager retriever ran full speed into a rock that happened to be the same shape and size as his toy. The dog immediately acted shocked and perplexed, and his mouth was bleeding. He had broken both of his canine teeth in half and three other teeth were cracked down to the pulp. Burns rushed the dog to the nearest emergency hospital.

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The veterinarian was concerned about trauma to Major’s brain, and the extensive damage to the teeth required surgery within the next 24 hours. The doctor took radiographs and administered pain medication, then scheduled the pet for surgery the next morning.

Fortunately, Major did not exhibit clinical signs of brain damage, but the surgeon who operated on his mouth was unable to save the broken teeth. After having five teeth extracted, the Lab was sent home to rest and made a full recovery.

“Having pet insurance takes a load off of the decision-making process and bases the decision on the pet’s prognosis, not financial constraints or instincts,” says Dr. Donnell Hansen, the veterinarian who treated Major.

Photos courtesy of VPI. All pets were nominees for the VPI Hambone Award.