For the 11th year in a row, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and StokesRX are partnering to provide FREE eye exams to eligible Assistance Animals, Service Dogs, and Working Dogs.
Since theACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam event began in 2007, nearly 60,000 working and Service Animals across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada have received free eye exams. Each year, approximately 7,500 qualified animals undergo ocular screening at participating clinics. Keep reading to learn more about the free eye exams for Service Animals event, qualifications for participation, and how to register your working or Service Animal.
What Is the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam?
The ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam provides free eye exams and ocular screening to qualified working, assistance, and Service Animals across North America. Board certified ophthalmologists (eye doctors) donate their time, staff, and services during the event. Dozens of clinics across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada participate each year.
The list of participating cities changes year to year, although many clinics decide to join the National Service Animal Eye Exam event annually. The free ACVO screenings offer invaluable information to working animal and Service Dog handlers by helping diagnose potential eye problems early. Many of the teams registering for free eye exams would not be able to afford to take their Service Dog to a specialty doctor for screening.
The National Service Animal Eye Exam program lists their goals as threefold:
- Preserve the sight of those who serve us selflessly
- Strengthen referral relationships with general practice veterinarians
- Benefit those who rely on Service Animals – individuals and society
When Is the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam?
The ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam takes place every year in May. Registration for the free eye exam event begins April 1st and closes on April 30th. You cannot register for Service Animal for the event until registration opens on April 1st. Once you register your Service Dog, you’ll be able to make an appointment at a participating eye exam clinic for an event time slot during the month of May.
Who Is the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam For?
The National Service Animal Eye Exam event is for qualified working animals, Assistance Animals, and Service Dogs, including:
- Guide Dogs / Visual Assistance Dogs
- Hearing Assistance Dogs
- Service Dogs For Disabilities Other Than Blindness
- Detection Dogs
- Military K9s / Police Dogs
- Search and Rescue Dogs
- Therapy Dogs
- Puppies in Training at a non-profit Service Dog organization
- Non-Canine Service Animals (Mounted Patrol Horses, Miniature Guide Horses)
Regardless of the type of working animal or Service Animal you have, you must be able to produce paperwork documenting your animal’s training and current working status. All participating animals must be formally trained and currently working. Current, active, partner members of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) can participate. If you are an owner-trainer, you can join the IAADP in order to obtain the required paperwork for participation. You MUST be able to produce documentation for your working animal in order for them to receive a free eye exam.
The definition of “qualified Service Animals” to be screened during this event applies only to this ACVO/StokesRX National Service Animal Eye Exam Event. ACVO is not a publicly funded organization and may define the qualification parameters for this event.
How To Participate In the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam
Registration for the National Service Animal Eye Exam includes multiple steps. Each step must be followed exactly, or you risk not qualifying for the exam and/or losing your exam slot.
First, check the list of participating cities. This list varies slightly from year to year. If your city is on the list or there’s a city close enough to travel to, congratulations. Move on to the next step.
Next, register your Service Animal(s) on the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam website. You cannot register for a free eye exam anywhere else, and registration is only open April 1st – April 30th. If registration isn’t open yet, add an alarm to your phone to remind you to register once the opportunity presents itself. Write down your registration number; you’ll need it.
After you register, you’ll receive a list of participating clinics near you. Select a clinic and call them to make an appointment for your Service Animal. Keep in mind that all exams will be conducted during the month of May. Make sure to provide your registration number to the person scheduling. You do not have an appointment until you talk to the clinic directly.
On the day of your appointment, you MUST bring a copy of the ACVO event registration email and documentation proving training and working status. After you check in, the doctor will perform the exam. The exam is non-invasive, isn’t painful, and does not require sedation. Depending on the tools utilized, the doctor may dilate your Service Dog’s eyes. Dilation wears off in a couple of hours and usually doesn’t impair their ability to work.
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