Guide dogs, handicap assistance dogs, detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs who selflessly serve the public will get the thanks they deserve in May 2011. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) is launching the fourth annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam event to help serve the dogs that dedicate their lives to serving the public. More than 180 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S.—as well as Canada and Puerto Rico—will volunteer to provide free, sight-saving eye exams to thousands of service dogs. Registration is now open for service dog owners and handlers.
During the complete ocular exam, veterinary specialists check for problems including redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts, and other serious abnormalities. Last year more than 3,200 active service dogs received free eye exams.
Groups that volunteers have served since the 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; and also individual service dog owners and handlers.
To qualify for the free exam, animals must be active, working dogs that are certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program. (The certifying organization can be national, regional, or local.) Other service animals are welcome to participate (i.e. horses, cats, and so on) as long as they meet the stated qualifications. Click here for additional registration details.