Service Animals to Receive Free Eye Screenings

Last year, 16-year-old Katie Krampitz 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!”

The 9th Annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event will be held May 1-31, 2016 Since its inception in 2008, over 45,000 Service Animals have received free eye exam screenings – more than 7,000 in 2015 alone. The event started when ACVO recognized the good that was already being done by many members; the majority of whom were providing similar free exams across the country. By combining and expanding these individual events, ACVO was able to create more of an impact.

“Katie and Rue’s story is just one of more than thousands that demonstrate how important optical health is to Service Animals and their owners,” said Stacee Daniel, Executive Director of ACVO. “We are always happy to hear such positive feedback about the event and extremely grateful to our ophthalmologists and sponsors for all the hard work they put into making the eye exams a success year after year.”

The goal of the ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam Event is to provide as many free screening exams as possible to eligible Service Animals across the U.S. and Canada throughout the month of May. 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’s event is sponsored by ACVO® and Stokes Pharmacy, as well as several generous industry sponsors, and volunteer ophthalmologists. Participating ophthalmologists volunteer their services, staff and facilities at no charge to participate in the event.

Click here to learn more about the event.

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