2012 National Service Dog Free Eye Exam Event!

Written on March 05, 2012 by Staff Veterinarian


The 5th Annual ACVO®/Merial® National Service Dog Eye Exam Event brings together veterinary ophthalmologists and thousands of service dogs for free eye exams.

 Registration begins April 1st-30th  for the May 2012 event.

During 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 who dedicate their lives to serving the public. More than 180 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., as well as Canada and Puerto Rico, traditionally elect to provide free sight-saving eye exams to thousands of service dogs. Registration for service dog owners and handlers begins April 1, 2011. During the complete ocular exam, the veterinary specialists will look for problems including: redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts and other serious abnormalities. Early detection and treatment are vital to these working dogs. Last year, more than 3,200 active service dogs received free eye exams throughout the month of May.

A sampling of groups served since the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event launched in 2008 include: Transportation Security Agency (TSA), military working dogs, local fire, rescue, and police agencies, and also individual service dog owners and handlers who rely on these amazing animals daily.


To qualify, animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. Guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs and formally trained and certified therapy dogs (through the Delta Society or similar) qualify. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Essentially the dogs need to have some sort of certification and/or training paperwork to qualify for this particular program. Other service animals are welcome to participate (i.e. horses, cats, etc.), as long as they meet the stated qualifications. Additional registration details can be found at www.acvoeyeexam.org


Step 1: In order to receive the free eye examination you must FIRST register online for this event at www.acvoeyeexam.org A confirmation and registration number will be sent to your e-mail address after registration. You will need to provide the registration number when scheduling your appointment with the ophthalmologist. If you do not register, you cannot participate in the event. 

 Step 2: Once you have registered, the web site will push you through to a page that will allow you to search by state to locate a clinic near you. (Clinics may not be available in every state.)

 Step 3: After locating the clinic you would like to visit, call their office directly, identify yourself as participating in the ACVO Service Dog event and make an appointment providing the registration number you attained. The dates and times that this program is offered may vary from clinic to clinic throughout the month of May. We suggest you register early in April to ensure a better chance of securing an appointment at your preferred clinic. Those who wait to register may find it difficult to find a clinic with open slots. 

 Step 4: Visit the ophthalmologist at the appointed time. Please call ahead if you will be late or have to cancel your appointment.  During the examination an eye health screening will be conducted on each animal. The complimentary eye exam through your veterinary ophthalmologist is of a screening nature. Should more services be needed or desired, you may discuss your options with the specialist. It is expected that the majority of animals will be healthy and will not be in need of additional services. But should such a need arise, your veterinary ophthalmologist is the expert that can discuss the condition, present options and best treat your animal.

 Step 5: After your Service Dog’s eye examination is complete, your veterinary ophthalmologist will provide you with a copy of your examination form and information. Please take this back to your primary care veterinarian to complete your medical records upon your next appointment. Your veterinarian is an integral part of the team needed to keep your Service Dog health.

 Data collected on each animal will remain private and be utilized for research purposes only.

 Remember, you MUST pre-register @ www.acvoeyeexam.org prior to making your appointment with the veterinary ophthalmologist. Registration for the 2012 event runs April 1st-30th with appointments booked throughout the month of May.

 Further questions/information can also be attained via our website at www.ivghospitals.com or by calling and speaking with a member of the Port City Ophthalmology Team at (603)433-0056.

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