A record 7,700 service and therapy animals had their eyes checked in May during the sixth annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event.
The project, sponsored by Merial Ltd. and the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, involved more than 250 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists who volunteered their time in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia, the ACVO reported today.
Fifty-two dogs attached to the Transportation Security Administration or Defense Department were examined at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
Also receiving eye exams were guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, registered therapy animals and service animals such as horses. Their owners were extremely appreciative, said Stacee Daniel, executive director of the Meridian, Idaho-based ACVO.
"The letters and Facebook posts that have been sent to us regarding the generosity of our sponsors and ophthalmologists have been heartfelt and amazing,” Daniel said. "Educating people about the importance of animal eye health has never been more rewarding.”
Moose, a certified Federal Emergency Management Agency urban search and rescue dog, received a clean bill of health, said his owner, Tootie Tatum.
"It means a great deal to all of us handlers,” she said. "As you know, it’s expensive to maintain our dogs, so events like this are a godsend.”
The goal of reaching 6,000 animals was easily surpassed, but ACVO noted that other objectives were attained as well. They included gathering data and strengthening referral relationships between veterinary ophthalmologists and general practice veterinarians.
Besides ACVO and Merial, other sponsors were Ocu-Glo Vision Supplement, Eye Care for Animals, OptiGen and Welch Allyn.
Supporting the effort were the American Veterinary Medical Association, state veterinary medical associations, the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, and dozens of service animal organizations.