The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech will once again partner with the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) and StokesRX to offer complimentary service dog eye exams in May at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital on the Blacksburg campus.  

The National Service Animal Eye Exam Event began in 2008 under the direction of ACVO public relations chair Bill Miller as a way to organize several smaller events into a coordinated national campaign. The goal of the event is to provide as many free eye exams as possible to qualified service animals each May across the U.S. and Canada.

During the campaign’s first year, over 160 ACVO diplomates offered exams to about 1,500 service animals, free of charge. The ACVO and its diplomates have since assisted over 45,000 service animals and plan to continue to increase their numbers annually.

Dates and times for this year’s event at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital will be as follows:

  • May 2, 4, and 6 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • May 9 and 11 from 3 to 3:30 p.m.
  • May 13 from 2:30 to 3 p.m.
  • May 16 and 18 from 3 to 3:30 p.m.
  • May 20 from 2:30 to 3 p.m.
  • May 23 and 25 from 3 to 3:30 p.m.
  • May 27 from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

According to ACVO, the event is open to service dogs and service dogs in training, including “guide dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs (drug, etc.), military, police, and search and rescue.” To qualify, service dogs must be active “working animals” certified in a formal training program or currently enrolled in such a program. Proof of certification may be required.

Service dog owners may register for the event via the AVCO website through April 30. Appointments are limited and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

According to Phillip Pickett, professor of ophthalmology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, the veterinary college has offered the free screening examinations and consultation for service dogs for more than 20 years.

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is a leading biomedical teaching and research center, enrolling more than 700 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, master of public health, and biomedical and veterinary sciences graduate students. The college is a partnership between the land-grant universities of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. Its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, features the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and large animal field services which together treat more than 79,000 animals annually. Other locations include the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, and the Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park, Maryland.

Written by Kelsey Foster, a master’s degree student in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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