Benji Is Healing After Emergency Surgery

SAN DIEGO Benji, the floppy-eared star of the recently released major motion picture Benji Off the Leash, is healing well after last month's emergency eye surgery at a Chicago area vet clinic, but is still having problems with her vision in her left eye, producer Joe Camp announced.

San Diego-based veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Tony Basher, who checked Benji and provided consultation for the surgery examined Benji August 31st and says a cloudy membrane has formed on the back of the lens capsule which is a response to all the trauma apparently, clouding any view of the retina.

Dr. Basher has consulted with Dr. Sam Vanisi of Eye Care For Animals in suburban Chicago — the top expert in the country for treating veterinary eye problems. Dr. Vainisi has been a pioneer in developing techniques for retinal detachment surgery in animals and is one of only a handful of doctors nationally who regularly perform the procedure on pets.

Dr. Vainisi performed the surgery at his clinic on Aug 3rd, 2004 and Benji was released the following day. Experts say in a worst-case scenario, the popular dog could lose her eyesight in the affected eye. Despite the cloudy membrane, Benji has regained some vision already.

The lovable, three-year-old mutt was placed under general anesthesia so that doctors could repair a detached retina on August 3rd, a complication from cataract surgery Benji underwent on June 27.

"It's not unusual for a dog to develop a cataract," said Dr. Tony Basher. "What is unusual was that it happened very quickly, developed into an infection, causing damage to and detachment of the retina."

Benji's big brown eyes have been the trademark of one of the most cherished characters in movie history. The new Benji was adopted from a shelter in Gulfport, MS, after a search in shelters all across the nation. The original Benji was from a shelter and caused over a million adoptions according to the American Humane Association.

Parents who grew up watching Benji become the world's most huggable hero will now be able to introduce their children to the lovable mutt who still inspires love, hope, and perseverance — traits Benji may need as she overcomes the risks of complicated surgery. The surgery interrupts a promotional tour for the new movie. Benji Off the Leash opened in theaters across the nation on August 20.