Online registration will begin April 1 for an American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists charity event that has provided service animals with 45,000 free eye screenings since 2008.
The ninth annual National Service Animal Eye Exam Event will take place throughout May, but advance registration is required at www.ACVOeyeexam.org to allow time for appointments to be made with participating board-certified ophthalmologists.
The event is co-sponsored by ACVO and Stokes Pharmacy of Laurel, N.J.
Eligible service animals include those working in these fields: guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and therapy.
An example is a young Labrador retriever named Rue, who is trained to act as a diabetic alert dog for Michigan teenager Katie Krampitz.
“Rue maintains eye contact with Katie, responding to nonverbal as well as verbal instructions,” ACVO reported. “When Katie’s blood sugar level is out of range, Rue will locate her testing kit and bring it to her. If her blood sugar level gets too low, Rue can retrieve a juice box for Katie and is also being trained to call 911 should Katie be unresponsive.”
Rue’s eyesight was tested during the 2015 event. She passed.
“Katie and Rue’s story is just one of more than thousands that demonstrate how important optical health is to service animals and their owners,” said Stacee Daniel, executive director of the Meridian, Idaho-based ACVO.
The service animals tested must be active and certified by a formal training program or organization, or enrolled in a formal training program, ACVO noted.
Registration will run until April 30. A registration number will be issued along with a list of participating ophthalmologists with whom appointments must be made on a first-come, first-served basis.