Service dogs receive free eye and heart screenings at UF

Richard Roth and service dog

Richard Roth, right, with his dog, Huey, and Huey's trainer, Linda.

By Sarah Carey

Approximately 50 service dogs received free heart and eye screening examinations at the UF Small Animal Hospital May 25. It was the largest number of animals seen at the event since the hospital began participating in it three years ago.

This was the college’s third year offering the exams, and the second in which veterinary cardiologists teamed up with ophthalmologists to provide their services. The event is held in conjunction with the annual National Service Dog Eye Exam event sponsored by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

Individuals as well as organizations that work with and train service animals filled the hospital lobby all day during the event.

“It was great for our students to be able to listen to so many dogs on one day and look at so many eyes,” said Dr. Amara Estrada, cardiology service chief. “Even if they were all normal, aside from one, it was a really good learning and teaching experience.”

Estrada and Dr. Herb Maisenbacher provided the cardiology exams.

Veterinary student Autum Busarow said she definitely benefited from the experience.

“Not only was it nice to be a part of something special like working with the service dogs, but being a student, it was also such a great learning experience, getting to listen to so many different types of dog hearts in one day,” she said.

Of the 50 dogs that came to UF for the event, most received the cardiology exams but 20 received eye examinations, according to Dr. Caryn Plummer, who spearheaded the event for the ophthalmology service and provided the examinations along with Dr. Brendan Manghan.

“It’s a great thing to do,” said Plummer, adding that she’s ready to start planning again soon for next year.

The normal cost of receiving both eye and heart examinations would run about $200, UF veterinarians said, so the cost-savings to the service dog owners was significant.

“Everyone was just so grateful,” Plummer said.



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