UF Small Animal Hospital to offer free eye, heart screenings for service animals

Michelle Wilhelmy and dog.
Veterinary ophthalmology technician Michelle Wilhelmy with a dog patient being seen during the annual service dog eye and heart screening event at UF’s Small Animal Hospital in May 2022.

The University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital will offer free eye and heart screenings for service animals on May 19 as part of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists-Epicur Pharma National Service Animal Eye Exam event.

Service animals typically include guide dogs, disability assistance dogs, detection dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and formally trained and certified therapy dogs. Only active working animals certified by or enrolled in a formal training program or organization qualify for the exam.     Caryn Plummer, D.V.M., and Ralph Hamor, D.V.M., both professors and board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, will perform the eye examinations. Board-certified veterinary cardiology faculty member Michael Aherne, D.V.M., will provide the heart screening examinations.

“Healthy eyes and vision are critical for a service animal to be able to perform to the best of its ability. Regular screening may help detect problems early that are potentially sight- or comfort-threatening, so intervention may be possible,” Plummer said.

If the veterinarians determine further tests are needed, owners will be able to schedule appointments.      Owners or their representatives should call Jaime Wilson at the UF Small Animal Hospital, 352-392-2235, to schedule an appointment. Appointments will be scheduled between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Registration through the sponsor via their website, acvoeyeexam.org, is also required during the month of April.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer these screenings for this incredibly important group of animal heroes,” Plummer said.