Dog earns pat on head for un­usual in­jury

Ca­nine im­paled by stick wins award for most un­usual pet in­sur­ance claim.

The Times-Tribune - - Front Page - BY CLAYTON OVER

STAFF WRITER A Scran­ton dog fetched an award — and some money that will ben­e­fit an­i­mals at a lo­cal vet­eri­nary cen­ter — af­ter a close call with a stick last year.

Rooster, a 9-year-old English pointer-Brit­tany mix, won the 2017 Ham­bone Award pre­sented an­nu­ally by Na­tion­wide for the most un­usual pet in­sur­ance claim of the year. A tree branch im­paled Rooster in Septem­ber 2016 dur­ing a hike with his hu­man, Jen Hawker, and two ca­nine com­pan­ions, Goose and Lulu, at Dick and Nancy Eales Na­ture Pre­serve in Jes­sup. Hawker, who lis­tened to a pod­cast as the dogs en­joyed some off-leash time, thought she heard a yelp over the ear­buds. Then, she no­ticed Rooster stand­ing frozen in place — un­char­ac­ter­is­tic for the nor­mally ac­tive dog.

“I didn’t know why, but he just stopped and he looked like he was ner­vous,” Hawker said.

She walked over to check on Rooster and no­ticed a bulge in his side. She ini­tially thought he had in­jured a rib. When she tried to pick him up, he cried out in pain.

“I knew he needed help,” Hawker said. “He wouldn’t walk on his own. He was stand­ing there and he would

take some steps, but we’re about a mile and a half or two miles from the car at this point, so I knew he wasn’t get­ting out on his own.”

Luck­ily, they were on a trail just off an ac­cess road. When Hawker called 911, Jes­sup Po­lice Chief Joseph Walsh drove a po­lice SUV close to the in­jured dog. The chief tried to fash­ion a makeshift stretcher out of his bul­let­proof vest to move Rooster to no avail, Hawker said. She even­tu­ally coaxed Rooster into walk­ing to the ve­hi­cle.

Walsh drove Rooster and Hawker to Vet­eri­nary Re­fer­ral & Emer­gency Cen­ter in South Abing­ton Twp., where staff took X-rays, and a tech­ni­cian no­ticed an open wound. The bulge in Rooster’s side ended up be­ing a branch about foot long that nar­rowly missed his lungs.

Staff at the cen­ter sur­gi­cally re­moved the stick. Rooster re­turned home that af­ter­noon and re­cov­ered fully in a few weeks. The only phys­i­cal ev­i­dence of his mishap is a small, barely no­tice­able scar on his side.

Hawker had pet in­sur­ance through Na­tion­wide. Af­ter se­lect­ing 12 nom­i­nees from nearly 1.5 mil­lion claims re­ceived over the past year, Na­tion­wide asked the pub­lic to vote for a win­ner. Rooster gar­nered the most votes.

Rooster re­ceived the bronze Ham­bone Award Tro­phy. A bas­ket of toys and treats is on the way.

For the role staff at the cen­ter played in Rooster’s res­cue, the cen­ter will re­ceive a $10,000 Na­tion­wide-funded Vet­eri­nary Care Foun­da­tion award. The money will go to the cen­ter’s An­gel Fund, which cov­ers op­er­a­tion and other costs for in­jured an­i­mals whose own­ers have ex­hausted all other means of pay­ing for pro­ce­dures, cen­ter pub­lic af­fairs li­ai­son An­gela Pow­ell said.

Hawker is happy the award will help other an­i­mals.

“You never want to see your dog like that. Luck­ily, he healed so well,” she said. “I like to think for his week of mis­ery, it gets to help an­i­mals now that wouldn’t have had a chance.” Con­tact the writer: cover@timessham­; 570-348-9100 x5363; @Clay­tonOver on Twit­ter


Rooster, a 9-year-old English pointer-Brit­tany mix, poses with his 2017 Ham­bone Award.


A branch about a foot long, left, lodged in Rooster’s side cre­at­ing a bulge, right.

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