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Ernie the Puppy steals owners hearts (and also diamond earring); wins North American Favorite Pet Story

by jmaloni
Fri, Dec 17th 2010 10:50 am

As the season of giving to loved ones nears, The North American Pet Health Insurance Association announces "Ernie the Puppy Steals Owners Hearts and also Diamond Earring" as the winner of the 2010 Favorite Pet Story to highlight the need of pet health insurance.

The pet health insurance industry encourages responsible pet owners to provide a special and critically valuable gift of pet health insurance to their beloved pets this holiday season.

Paul and Sara Michaels will have additional money for this year's holiday season thanks to pet health insurance. Early this year, the Seattle couple decided that they wanted a Havanese puppy. They located Ernie and immediately knew he was a great dog. This was their first dog and they were really surprised at how loyal and loving he was, always wagging his tail - and he would seldom bark. The family started to create a routine that included long walks in the evenings, and lazy Sundays at home.

It was during lounging on the bed with Ernie on a lazy Sunday morning that the unexpected occurred. According to Paul, "Ernie had been with us just a few weeks, and we just loved him more and more every day. He was greeting Sara with his usual morning kisses and snuggles. He has this special way with Sara; he snuggles up to her neck and kisses her ears. Suddenly, Sara looked at me with her eyes wide as saucers, and feeling her earlobe. ... 'Oh my God, I think he just. ...' I stared back and said, 'Your earring?' We quickly did a hard-target search through the sheets, comforter, pillows ... nothing. All through our frantic scramble, Ernie watched, wanting to join in this new game, of course unfazed that he had just eaten 1/2 of my wife's anniversary present. Ernie was rushed to The Animal Medical Center. They asked if we had pet insurance and they seemed relieved when we answered 'yes!'  An X-ray showed that Ernie had, in fact swallowed it. (That was) followed by an endoscopy to remove the earring from his little tummy, so it wouldn't hurt his intestines if he tried to pass it. 

Paul said it was refreshing to be treated to such world-class care by the veterinary staff and the customer service department of the pet health insurance provider.

"We were very concerned and they were all fantastic and helpful as we went through this emergency with Ernie," he said. "We'll always remember that feeling of panic when we didn't know what was going to happen after he ate the earring, and we'll never forget the way that the pet health insurance company took such amazing care of our Ernie. The follow-up paperwork was handled professionally and made it so painless and easy for us. We received detailed, personalized e-mails from a staff that made us feel like our little boy was their No. 1 priority. We are encouraging all of our family and friends to purchase pet health insurance and for the holiday's we are providing a few policies for our family members with pets."

This is the second year that pet insurance companies across North America have joined to celebrate North American Pet Health Insurance Month presented by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. In addition to raising awareness of the values and benefits of pet owners providing responsible care, the month also includes a contest for North America's Favorite Pet Story and nominations for North America's Favorite Veterinarian. Grand prizes of $1,000 will be awarded to "North America's Favorite Pet Story" and "North America's Favorite Veterinarian." In addition, the winner of each will choose a worthy animal shelter, pet rescue or pet health research group to receive a $1,000 donation.

NAPHIA says everyday across North America hundreds - and on some days thousands - of pets face economic euthanasia at veterinary hospitals because pet owners are not prepared to provide needed care. Importantly, these are not pets that require extensive treatments or a course of care that would subject the pet to pain. These are pets that require more medical care than the pet owner can afford.

The point of Pet Health Insurance Month is to share great stories like Ernie's.

"This lovable and well-cared-for puppy will help other pet owners to be responsible and prepared for an unexpected illness or injury. The real winners of the North American Pet Health Insurance Month are the increasing numbers of pets that are protected and receiving needed care," said Laura Bennett, chairwoman of the NAPHIA board of directors. "NAPHIA receives inquiries continuously from pet owners that are in need of critical care. Unfortunately, once the pet is diagnosed with a specific illness or serious emergency like Ernie, insurance will not cover that immediate need. Over 50 percent of loving pet owners in the United States and Canada will purchase a holiday present for their pet. NAPHIA encourages all responsible pet owners to consider pet health insurance as the best possible gift that will provide security and peace of mind for your family."

About The North American Pet Health Insurance Association

Founded in 2007, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association is committed to educating and promoting the values and benefits of pet health insurance to North American pet owners, the general public, and the veterinary industry. 

Pet parents can enter their stories, pictures and favorite veterinary practices for special prizes and an educational grant for the veterinary care provider. To learn more, visit http://www.naphia.org.

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