Saturday, September 5, 2009

“I think lab owners know how stupid these animals can be."

Dog’s ‘snack’ may result in award


Denver Daily News Staff Writer

One black dress sock ended up costing Greenwood Village resident Kevin Koritza $2,500, a very sick dog and a chance to claim the inaugural Veterinary Pet Insurance Hambone Award.

Becca, Koritza’s young Labrador retriever, ate her master’s dress sock last year. As a result, Becca grew increasingly sicker and was “splashing liquids out of both ends” five days after eating the $2 sock. When Koritza was going to the pet store to buy a different kind of dog food for Becca in hopes of curing her then-undiagnosed ailment, Koritza’s dad called saying the dog had puked out a sock and was going to be just fine.

But Kortiza’s dad didn’t pick up the sock. And by the time Koritza got home, Becca ate the vomit-soaked clothing accessory back up again.

“She was so dehydrated from being so sick that the sock didn’t have a chance to go anywhere, it just got stuck in her intestines,” Koritza said.

A $2,500 surgery was required to remove the sock from Becca’s intestines. The surgery was successful, though, and Becca is now as happy as can be, according to Koritza.

“It was an expensive lesson in good housekeeping,” he said.

While Becca’s misadventures put a slight dent in Koritza’s pocketbook — Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) covered about half the cost of the surgery — the 26-year-old and his 2-year-old dog are one of 12 finalists for the inaugural Hambone Award being given out by VPO. After a year of collecting the most unusual pet insurance claims from each month, the nation’s oldest and largest pet health insurance provider is holding a competition that invites the public to vote on which is the most bizarre claim of the year.

The pet with the claim that is voted most unusual will then win the Hambone Award, which is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting to be found. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for treatments.

“Our intent with the Hambone Award is to let pet owners know just how unexpected the unexpected can be,” said a statement from Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.

Koritza and Becca face some strong national competition for the Hambone Award. Some other contestants include:

• After being caught eating a pacifier, Lulu the English bulldog was brought to the veterinarian for an X-ray. The X-ray resulted in a surgery to remove 15 pacifiers that Lulu had ingested over the course of six months;

• A bucket of minnows — bait for an ice-fishing trip — piqued the interest of Quincy the Labrador. But when Quincy stuck his snout in for a sniff, he managed to inhale a three-pronged fishhook;

• Marley the Labrador retriever’s owner was trying to clear the beach of sea urchins when Marley, true to her retriever nature, ran to fetch one of the poisonous creatures. She spent the next couple hours regretting the decision.

Koritza likes his and Becca’s chances of claiming the award because it’s such a disgusting story.

“The other ones are comical, but they just don’t have that edge of absolutely disgustingness that we have,” he said. “I think lab owners know how stupid these animals can be. They’re a special breed and come with their challenges and personality.”

People can vote what they believe is the most unusual pet insurance claim at Voting will end on Sept. 14, 2009, and the winner will appear on the Rachel Ray Show in the near future.

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