(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) April 2, 2013—Service animals, including guide dogs, handicapped assistance animals, detection dogs, therapy animals, and search and rescue dogs, selflessly give so much to the people they serve and the public. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) is giving back to these heroes by offering free eye exams to service animals for the entire month of May.
“Service animals are one of the best examples of the benefits that the human-animal bond brings to people, and they need excellent vision to continue their important work,” explains Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “That’s why this annual free eye exam event is such a fantastic service to the community. Early detection will help veterinarians protect and preserve the sight of these amazingly talented animals.”
During the sixth annual ACVO/Merial National Service DogEye Exam Event, more than 250 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists will donate their skills to provide free screening eye examinations to service dogs across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Service dog owners can register their animals for free eye exams on the ACVO Web page: www.ACVOeyeexam.org through April 30.
“Our hope is that by checking their vision early and often, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends,” says Stacee Daniel, executive director of the ACVO.
Since the program launched in 2008, nearly 16,000 service animals have been examined. In addition to dogs, other service animals including horses and even a service donkey have received free eye exams.
“Since the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event launched in 2008, the ACVO has had the privilege of working with military working dogs, animals that help secure our airports, an organization providing psychiatric service dogs to soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, local fire, rescue and police agencies, and also individual service animal that help people with disabilities,” explains Dr. Bill Miller, a veterinary ophthalmologist with the ACVO. “That’s why, as one of the 250 veterinarians who does the free exams, I enjoy this annual month-long event so much. These animals are inspiring. Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals and the important work they do.”
The ACVO/MerialNational Service Dog Eye Exam Event is primarily sponsored by ACVO and Merial. Other non-profit supporters include the American Veterinary Medical Association, most state veterinary medical associations in the U.S. and Canada, the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, and national service animal organizations.
To qualify, animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Owners/agents for the animal(s) must FIRST register the animal via an online registration form at www.ACVOeyeexam.org. Registration ends April 30. Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area. Then they 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.
The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 84,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities and dedicated to the art and science of veterinary medicine.