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Melbourne surgery saves Gisborne dog

A little Gisborne dog has become an international traveller and an expensive patient after suffering a rare complication while being spayed.

Last month Gisborne businessman Paul Benge’s 12-month old Lowchen puppy, Bayley, was taken to Melbourne University U-Vets where two surgeons and their assistants worked on her to correct a problem in her nasal airways.

Mr Benge said the complication could happen to one in 150,000 dogs during spaying. While lying on their back, acid from the lower stomach flows back up and into the nasal passages, destroying the passages and resulting in the dog being unable to breathe through their nose or smell.

Nothing could be done in Gisborne, said Mr Benge, an animal lover and former voluntary treasurer of Gisborne SPCA.

“So Bayley was taken to Auckland for MRI scans at VSG Vets and then balloon sinuplasty. The diagnosis came back from Auckland that both nostrils were damaged; her nasal airways and sinuses had scar tissue and the only remedy would be stenting.”

Many hours were spent organising to get Bayley to Australia to see a vet at Melbourne University. The other choice was Chicago, which was too far to go with a sick dog, he said.

“Australian U-Vets were positive and were prepared to give this a try on such a small dog.

“It was a huge mission and a very costly exercise over the next month of organising exporting from New Zealand, arranging dog visas (yes, they do exist), customs, quarantine, Ministry for Primary Industries approval, travel with a dog on public transport in Australia, motels that are dog-friendly (a mission on its own) . . . the list goes on, a huge task.”

The operation had to go to plan and be done within a 10-day period or else the visa expires and the pup automatically becomes an Australian citizen.

“It then becomes a nightmare to get her back to NZ with a new set of rules, regulations and procedures — wow.”

Bayley had the operation and surgeons Stewart Ryan and Julien Dandrieux were happy with the result.

“Bayley was ready to venture back to her motel post-op two days later and wait for her big trip back to New Zealand, then home to Gisborne.”

Bayley is recovering well, said a delighted Mr Benge.

“The stent implant needs to be checked in a couple of months by X-ray. All going well, she will lead a normal life, thanks to the great surgical team.”

The operation was recorded and shared for other vets around the world to learn from.


A pint-sized Gisborne pup is recovering from a journey across the Tasman for life-saving surgery at Melbourne University. Bayley, owned by businessman Paul Benge, suffered a rare complication when being spayed and ended up being flown to Australia for an operation. It all ended happily and Bayley is back home and doing well. Pictures supplied
AS SICK AS A DOG: There’s no wag in the tail of Bayley the Lowchen after suffering a rare complication during her spaying. She ended up being flown to Melbourne for an operation, which proved successful and was recorded and shared for other vets to learn from.
Successful surgery: Doctor Julian Dandrieux (left) with Dr Stewart Ryan (right), Gisborne man Paul Benge and his dog Bayley after her successful operation in Melbourne.