WE LOVE WHAT WE DO!
The ACVO/Stokes National Service Animal Eye Exam event is a philanthropic effort generously provided to the public by the board certified Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists who donate their time, staff and services to provide free screening ocular exams to qualified Service and Working Animals. This is our 11th year providing these complimentary screenings across the US, Puerto Rico and Canada. This program would not be successful without the generosity of our Diplomate members and the financial support of all our valuable sponsors.
Each year most formally trained Service and Working Animals, and some qualified assistance and therapy animals, can be registered to receive these sight-preserving screenings. Registration is limited via qualification and occurs only April 1st – April 30th annually, online through this website. Exams take place in May at many members’ clinics across the country, the full participation list is available to those that register online. (Here are the participating cities, these are typically similar year to year, but check back in 2018 for an updated list at that time.)
Nearly 60,000 animals have received these free screening exams over the past ten years. Please participate, support our ophthalmologists and sponsors to ensure this program continues in the future.
- Stacee Daniel, ACVO Executive Director
Special thanks to our name-sake sponsor through 2019, Stokes Pharmacy.
1) Preserve the sight of those who serve us all selflessly
2) Strengthen referral relationships with general practice veterinarians
3) Benefit those who rely on Service Animals - individuals and society
EVENT HISTORY & DEVELOPMENT
In 2008, ACVO's Public Relation's Chair, Dr. Bill Miller, recognized the good that was being done by so many of our members, many of whom already provided free exams across the country. He too employed such a program in his clinics, but he had a vision to somehow integrate and develop these individual events into something with much more of an impact. He came up with a general idea, asking the Diplomates to either combine their current events, or begin providing free screening eye exams to Service and Working Animals as part of a coordinated National campaign. His colleagues agreed to participate and thus the program was born.
ACVO approached the American Veterinary Medical Association for support, to this day the AVMA has given the program a blanket, ongoing endorsement. They signed on as a supporter and helped ACVO promote the event to referring veterinarians, thereby inviting more individuals to benefit from the program. The first event took place without a sponsor and was developed exclusively in-house; it was held during AVMA's Pet Awareness week in May.
The first year was emblematic of how much our ophthalmologists love supporting Service Animals, over 160 of our Diplomates offered their services for free to approximately 1,500 Service Animals across Canada and the USA. Each year both the participating number of veterinarians and the number of clients have increased. The eight year participation average shows that approximately 260-280 of ACVO's Diplomates voluntarily participate annually; therein donating all of their time, facilities and staff services to the event. To date over 52,000 Service Animals have received free screening exams from this program; we hope to increase these numbers annually.
The program became rooted when Merial stepped up to act as the name-sake sponsor and other secondary sponsors was secured. Merial supported the event for five years even though they did not carry ophthalmic specific products. After five years of support, Merial underwent a series of merges and was no longer able to financially sponsor the event. So in 2014, Stokes Pharmacy generously agreed to assist ACVO as the name-sake sponsor through 2019. Sponsor funds help pay for the program's staff support and limited overhead; financially the goal is to simply break even. The public should know that our Diplomates participate voluntarily and are not reimbursed for their time, expertise, staff or expenses.
The College received press coverage the first year, involving over 4 million people. The outreach was grass-roots as funds were not available to hire a professional PR firm. In the third year of the program, ACVO hired a PR firm to help get the word out and increase registration numbers. Since then knowledge of the program has spread reaching over 300 million people in 2014; over 2 Billion over the internet.
We are very grateful to our ophthalmologists and staff who really make this event happen! After all, their philanthropy is what spawned the idea in the first place. Thank you to all of our member Diplomates who participate for being involved in this program. We hope to bring it to the public as long as is feasibly possible.
Please feel free to pass on the word to anyone who you think might qualify to participate or may want to be listed as a program supporter.