Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Service Animals Can Receive Free Eye Exams In May

By Petslady @petslady

Dogs visit veterinary opthalmologist: image via TBO.comDogs visit veterinary opthalmologist: image via Most service animals are dogs specially Most service animals are dogs specially trained to provide service to humans.  In addition to their naturally great sense of smell and hearing, service dogs must have healthy eyes and good sight.  Merial, a worldwide animal health company and the American College of Veterinary Medicine teams up in the month of May to sponsor free eye exams for service dogs who qualify at more than 200 sites across the nation and in Canada and Puerto Rico.

It's the fifth straight year for the AVCO Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam, but like I said, this service is not just for dogs.  The veterinary ophthalmology team has even tested a donkey, among the 10,500 animals among the 10,500 animals they examined as part of the program over the past five years.

Dogs and other animal providing services to disabled persons, dogs used for detection, and dogs used for search and rescue are eligible for the eye exams.  Veterinary ophthalmologists look for signs of cataracts,  glaucoma, ocular tumors, and other spontaneous and heredity eye conditions.

According to ACVO service animals that will be considered for the free eye exam must be: "guide dogs, hearing dogs, dogs assisting people with disabilities other than blindness, detection dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs and formally trained and certified therapy dogs (through the Delta Society or similar). Dogs must be active 'working dogs' that were certified by a formal training program or organization or are currently enrolled in a formal training program to qualify. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Essentially the dogs need to have some sort of certification and/or training paperwork to qualify for this particular this program."

There are limited slots available, so if you have a service dog, apply as soon as you can after April 1.  Online applications will be accepted until the end of April for May examinations.  The ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam website provides all the information you need, including the application, to get your service dog tested.

sources:  AVCO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam, ZooToo

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