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Reference Desk March 2012

Veterinary Ophthalmologists Partner with Merial to Offer Free Eye Exams for Service Dogs

    Online registration available April 1-30

    Merial service dog eye exam

    MERIDIAN, Idaho—Guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs selflessly serve the public. So, for the month of May 2012, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) is launching the 5th annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event to help serve these dogs and other service animals who dedicate their lives to serving the public. More than 200 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., as well as Canada and Puerto Rico, are estimated to provide free sight-saving eye exams to thousands of eligible service animals. Registration for service animal owners and handlers begins April 1, 2012 at www.ACVOeyeexam.org.

    Since the program launched in 2008, more than 10,500 service animals have been examined. During the complete ocular exam, veterinary specialists look for such problems as redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts, and other serious abnormalities. Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals. “Our hope is that by checking their
    vision, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends,” says Stacee Daniel, Executive Director of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

    A sampling of groups served since the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event launched in 2008 include Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and military working dogs from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas; Puppies Behind Bars, an organization providing psychiatric service dogs to soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan; local fire, rescue, and police agencies, and also individual service dog owners and handlers.

    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. The certifying organization could be national, regional, or local in nature. Owners/agents for the animal(s) must first register the animal via an online registration form beginning April 1, 2012 at www.ACVOeyeexam.org. Registration ends April 30th. Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area and may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment. Appointments will take place during the month of May. Times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Sponsors of the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event include Merial, Ocu-Glo Rx Canine Vision Supplement, Welch Allyn, Aventix Animal Health and Eye Care for Animals, as well as many nonprofit supporters, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, most state veterinary medical associations in the U.S. 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, a 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 employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial is the animal health division of sanofi-aventis. For more information, visit www.merial.com.

    Source: American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists

    didyouknow

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