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Free eye exams provided to service animals in May

A group of Labradoodle Guide and Assistance Dogs
A group of Labradoodle Guide and Assistance Dogs

During the month of May, the Eye Clinic for Animals in San Diego offered a free eye exam to registered service dogs, according to CBS8 on Thursday.

California, however, is not the only state to offer the sight-saving exams. More than 250 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will donate their time and resources to provide free eye exam screenings to thousands of eligible service animals this month.

The 7th Annual ACVO®/ Stokes Pharmacy National Service Animal Eye Exam Event was launched in 2008 by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) to honor service animals and their work. Since that time, AVCO reports that nearly 22,000 service animals have been examined.

The event hopes to serve 8,000 animals this year. It applies to service animals such as guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and registered therapy animals. Not only dogs, but other service animals including horses and even a service donkey named Henry have received the free exams.

“Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals,” said Stacee Daniel, executive director of ACVO. “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.”

Good eyesight is vital to the job of animals such as Ben, a black American Field Labrador who can climb a three-story ladder unassisted. Ben is a search and rescue dog from Ventura, Calif. that can be called upon during a disaster to rescue someone who is alive. His handler, Eric Darling, has brought Ben to participate in the event for three years in a row, according to ACVO.

Tests may include vision and visual reflexes. The screenings are for everything from cataracts to signs of corneal ulcers, in order to detect potential eye diseases.

The event is sponsored by ACVO and Stokes Pharmacy, as well as other industry sponsors.

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