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Service Dogs Receive Free Eye Exams

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During May 2011, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) will be operating the 4th annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event which offers free eye exams to service dogs in the US and Canada. The event  brings together veterinary ophthalmologists and thousands of service dogs. Registration begins April 1, 2011 for May 2011 event.

More than 180 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., as well as Canada and Puerto Rico elect to provide the free ocular exam. The veterinary specialists will look for problems including: redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts and other serious abnormalities.

Early detection and treatment are vital to these working dogs.  “Our hope is that by checking their vision, we will be able to help a large number of dogs better assist their human friends,” says Stacee Daniel, Executive Director of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. Last year, more than 3,200 active service dogs received free eye exams throughout the month of May.

A sampling of groups served since the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event launched in 2008 include:

  • Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and military working dogs from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas
  • Puppies Behind Bars, an organization providing psychiatric service dogs to soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan
  • local fire, rescue and police agencies
  • individual service dog owners and handlers who rely on these amazing animals daily

Jenny Logan’s three-year-old poodle, Mishka, is an active Search and Rescue dog in Tampa, Florida.  Mishka participated in the 2009 and 2010 events. “It’s a wonderful thing to have offered to you,” says Logan. “It’s preventative medicine and if anything is wrong and you can catch a condition early, you can treat it. And there’s no charge for the free exam. That’s phenomenal this day

How to Register for the 2011 Event:

To qualify, animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Other service animals are welcome to participate (i.e. horses, cats, etc.), as long as they meet the stated qualifications. Additional registration details can be found at

Owners/agents for the animal(s) must FIRST register the animal via an online registration form beginning April 1, at www.ACVOeyeexam.orgRegistration ends April 29, 2011.

Once registered online, the owner/agent will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area and may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment. Appointments will take place during the month of May. Times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

To learn more and to register for the ACVO®/Merial® National Service Dog Eye Exam Event:

Photos courtesy ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event

Paris Permenter
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