Service Dogs Get Special Service in May

by Mary Haight on March 12, 2012

service dogs

Service dogs spend most of their lives assisting humans with their special needs, from working with the Drug Enforcement Agency, with the military sniffing out bombs, alerting a family member to an oncoming seizure and seeing, hearing or opening doors for those who can’t, to saving people from natural disasters. They are highly valued, highly trained working dogs.

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) decided it was time to pay them back, honor them for their service. This is the 5th year that the ACVO will again offer their screening services during the month of May to help prevent an eye problem from becoming a sight problem.

Service dogs of all stripes need visual acuity to perform their specialized tasks: handicapped assistance dogs, police dogs, trained and certified therapy dogs, search and rescue, military service dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs are eligible for this screening. A visit to a vet specialist like an ophthalmologist is a great way to catch problems early, and extend a dog’s working life. It’s even better when it’s free!

How Does This Program Work?

Since the implementation of this program, 10,000 animals across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico have been examined. Last year 4000 service dogs were screened. Word is getting out! ACVO has partnered with Merial to provide this assistance. Board certified ophthalmologists donate their time, $250,000 worth in 2011, and all administrative and website costs are covered by the sponsor.

How Do You Enroll,What is Required for Service Dogs?

Fill out the questionnaire to register at the ACVO website available beginning April 1st All service dogs must be certified by an accredited agency. You will be notified if your dog is qualified. A participating ophthalmologist in your area will be assigned. All of these doctors are board certified and members of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

Dr. Lorie Huston, Animal Cafe’s Veterinary Correspondent, spoke with the ACVO’s Dr. Bill Miller about the National Service Dog Eye Exam program and its impact. Enjoy the podcast!

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