Posted on 21 April 2016.
Service Animal owners/handlers can register for free eye exam
Last year, 16-year-old Katie Krampitz, of Grand Rapids, and her father, brought her one-year-old black lab, Rue, to her veterinary ophthalmologist’s office for a check-up. But Rue’s visit was no ordinary exam, because Rue is no ordinary dog. For Katie, who has suffered from Type 1 Diabetes since she was a toddler, Rue is a literal lifesaver. Trained as a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) by Warren Retrievers, Rue’s primary job is to monitor Katie’s blood sugar level and alert her when it is too high or too low.
Knowing how important eyesight is to Service Animals like Rue, as well as how expensive the care and cost of such animals can be for many families and individuals, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO)® developed the ACVO®/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event in 2008. The program allows for free screening eye exams for qualified Service Animals during the month of May.
In her job as a DAD, Rue’s eyesight is extremely important. She needs to always be aware of Katie’s surroundings and follow her wherever she goes. In public, Rue maintains eye contact with Katie, responding to nonverbal, as well as verbal instructions. When Katie’s blood sugar level is out of range, Rue will locate her testing kit and bring it to her. If her blood sugar level gets too low, Rue can retrieve a juice box for Katie and is also being trained to call 911, should Katie be unresponsive.
“Amazingly, within eight months of receiving Rue, Katie’s A1C was the lowest it has ever been,” said Ed Krampitz, Katie’s father. “That’s just one of the reasons we were so pleased to hear that Rue’s eyes looked perfectly normal and healthy at her exam last year. Service Animals require a significant investment, so having access to a free eye exam screening is a huge blessing. The screening itself was quick and stress-free. Thanks to ACVO and Stokes Pharmacy for making this service available!”
Since its inception in 2008, over 45,000 Service Animals have received free eye exam screenings – more than 7,000 in 2015 alone. The goal of the 9th Annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event is to provide as many free screening exams as possible to eligible Service Animals across the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico from May 1-31, 2016. Service Animals that may qualify include: guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and certified-current, registered therapy animals – all whom selflessly serve the public. This year, 260 to 280 ophthalmologists in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico are expected to participate.
Participating ophthalmologists volunteer their services, staff and facilities at no charge to participate in the event.
HOW TO REGISTER FOR THE 2016 EVENT:
To qualify, Service 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. 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 at www.ACVOeyeexam.org. Registration ends April 30. 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. Then, they may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment, which 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, so clients should try to register and make appointments early.