Woman drives 1,600 kilometers so her dog can get the eye surgery he needed at a hefty price.

Without surgery, Pam Shelby’s dog, an 11-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Gus, would lose his eye. After being diagnosed with a serious eye condition that Gus was born with, Winnipeg veterinarian told Shelby she would have to drive Gus to Saskatoon to receive the surgery he needed. Not only would Gus lose his eye without surgery, but he would have to live with extreme discomfort and pain. Being told there was a 75% success rate, Pam decided it was a chance she had to take.


There are no vets near Winnipeg, MB that specialize in surgical optometry, with the closest being an 8-hour drive west.

There is simply, not enough demand in Winnipeg. Ophthalmologists are specialists who have more years of schooling and need a specialized practice with equipment and staff. Plus, t’s very expensive to open a practice, especially if the demand for the service is not there.

There are three ophthalmologists at the University of Saskatchewan that rotate and come to Manitoba about once a month.


Within a month, Shelby and her father packed up their car with Gus and headed to Saskatoon for the surgery.

The price-tag for surgery was a hefty $3000 and didn’t come easy, but it was an easy choice for Shelby. “He’s part of our family. We don’t have kids”, she said.

“Being so young we knew it would make such a difference in his life, so we wanted to give him the best medical care we could. And that meant an 8-hour drive to Saskatoon.”

While Shelby was able to afford the bill, she said it would be tough for others with limited funds, and families with children.


After surgery, Shelby and Gus returned to their Winnipeg home with instructions to wear a head cone for at least 4 weeks. Within the first week Gus has 90% of his vision back and has already gone through four cones. Cones come at a $10-$30 cost depending on where you get them and the quality of the cone. This adds up fast!

Many people think they can afford a dog – or any pet for that matter – but don’t think of the “what ifs”. Sure, you can afford the food and initial shots, but how far would you be willing to go for a pet that’s part of the family? Could you afford that?