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Reference Desk June 2012

National Service Dog Free Eye Exams Serve Nearly 5000

    Exams increased more than 20% over last year

    merial service dog exam

    MERIDIEN, Idaho, June 22, 2012—The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) today announced a consecutive year of record-breaking results from the 5th Annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event. With the help of 250 volunteer board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the US, as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia, nearly 5000 service animals were examined during the event. This is an increase of more than 20% from last year. Guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, and other service animals including horses and a donkey received free sight-saving exams.  

    “We’ve exceeded our expectations and are so thankful for all of our board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists who volunteered their time and helped so many service animals,” said Stacee Daniel, executive director of ACVO. “Since we launched the event five years ago, we’ve increased the number of service animals examined each year. We’re also educating people about the importance of animal eye health.

    Among the service animals examined this year was Luna, a 5-year-old black lab. Luna’s owner, Alyssa Denis of Alberta, Canada, suffers from Lupus. Luna helps her with daily tasks such as opening and closing doors and picking up her keys. Denis has brought Luna to the free eye exam event over the years. Last year doctors found a life-threatening tumor in her eye. Luna was successfully treated, and during this year’s event received a clean bill of health. 

    “If I hadn’t brought Luna to the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event she wouldn’t be with me now,” said Ms. Denis. “It saved her life!  Many disabled people don’t have the means to get this type of care for their service animal but this free program allows people to do just that.”

    There are many stories similar to Luna’s including a four-year-old Irish Setter named Cassie who was seen at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center where Dr. Lawrence Bagley discovered a cataract during the free exam and alerted her owner. 

    Registration for the event takes place online, during April of each year. The eye exams take place in May at locations throughout the U.S. and other places outside the country. To qualify, animals must be active “working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program. To learn more about the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event, please visit www.ACVOeyeexam.org.

    The event is primarily sponsored by ACVO and Merial. Other generous sponsors this year included: Ocu-GLO Rx, Canine Vision Supplement, Welch Allyn, Aventix, and Eye Care for Animals, as well as many nonprofit supporters, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, most state veterinary medical associations in the US and Canada, American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, and other national service animal organizations.

    About the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
    The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.” To become board certified, a candidate must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, an additional one year internship, a three year approved residency and pass a series of credentials and examinations.

    About Merial
    Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please visit www.merial.com.

    Source: American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists


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