Free CERF Eye Exams for Service DogsApril 29, 2008

Woburn, April 29, 2008: In conjunction with the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ACVO) and Pet Health Systems (PHS), InTown Veterinary Group would like to announce the launching of the ACVO National Service Dog Eye Exam event the week of May 12th, 2008.  While our veterinary Ophthalmologists Ruth Marrion, DVM, PhD, DACVO and Nancy Cottrill, DVM, MS, DACVO, give free CERF (1) eye exams  to service dogs year round, this promotion involving the ACVO, PHS and Merial includes a free Pet Wellness Report™ (preventative health diagnosis) and blood panel through the owner’s primary care veterinarian.
Annual wellness testing is a standard of care in veterinary medicine; it most closely mimics an annual physical in human medicine. Determining comprehensive healthy baseline values can assist in the process of isolating changes in a pet’s overall health before symptoms become apparent.  In the case of a service dog however according to Lynn Boulier a trainer at Tail Waggin Training Center specializing in service dogs for autism, “having a veterinary ophthalmologist check the eyes of a service dog, allows that dog to mitigate the disability for the individuals that utilize them. A dog that is lacking good vision poses a risk of not having the ability to work as service dog.”
Drs. Ruth Marrion and Nancy Cottrill have a combined 25 years of experience in veterinary ophthalmology. Procedures performed on cats and dogs include cataract surgery and lens replacement, corneal grafting, surgery for glaucoma, microscopic exam of eyelids, iris and cornea lens and retinal examinations, to name a few. The free CERF exam will be performed after placing drops into the eyes of the service dog to dilate the pupils. The CERF exam is a 15 – 20 minute screening test which will consist of indirect ophthalmoscopy and biomicroscopy.
The ACVO National Service Dog Eye Exam Day is a ground-breaking event that will help preserve the eye-sight of thousands of Service dogs across America. Ophthalmologists across the country will be donating their time. The ACVO, PHS and Merial together will donate nearly one million dollars in services to the 5,000-10,000 Services Dogs expected to participate.

Service Dogs eligible to participate in the free screening eye exam include guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs and search and rescue dogs. In order to qualify, dogs must be active “working dogs”, certified by a formal training program or organization, or enrolled in a formal training program. For more information and to register to participate, go to http://www.acvoeyeexam.org/dog/dogframe.html. Once you have registered, you may call to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist at either of our two facilities in Woburn or North Andover for your dog’s free eye exam.

Dr. Ruth Marrion, DVM, PhD, DACVO: Essex County Veterinary Referral Hospital, North Andover, MA, (978) 725-5544

Dr. Nancy Cottrill, DVM, MS, DACVO: Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, Woburn, MA, (781) 932-5802

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