Free Dog Eye Exam a Sight to Behold

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Dog having its eyes examnedFetch this freebie to keep our four-legged citizens looking good on the job: a no-cost service-dog eye exam. Registration for the fourth annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event runs April 1 through April 29. The complimentary checkups begin May 1.

Participating veterinary ophthalmologists will give the once-over to the peepers of thousands of guide dogs, detection dogs, rescue dogs and other qualified assistance canines throughout the 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Cats and horses are welcome, too, if they work in an official service capacity.The cost of an eye exam from a vet specialist costs between $150 and $500 -- enough to keep any owner in Milk Bones for a while. Jenny Logan, a nurse from Fairfax, Va., told WalletPop she was signing up her 3-year-old search-and-rescue poodle, Mishka, for the third straight year. Mishka trains with the volunteer organization Dogs-East, mostly in the woods. She could have an undetected and potentially harmful scratch from a twig, Logan said. Or she could have a medical condition. "If they found the beginning of cataracts, hopefully you can prevent eye surgery, which would eventually be quite a lot of money," Logan said.

In the past, the event has included dogs from the Transportation Security Agency, military dogs from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and dogs used in therapy for soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, organizers said.

As for the fine-print stuff: Dogs must have graduated from a recognized training program or currently be attending one. Owners must sign up for the eye exam first before making the appointment. Then owners can contact a program-affiliated veterinary ophthalmologist in their region. Appointments are first-come, first-served. "They make it very easy," Logan said.
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