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7th Annual ACVO® National Service Animal Eye Exam Event

posted March 16th, 2014 by
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AVCO 1MERIDIAN, Idaho (Mar 16, 2014) – Service animals including: Guide, handicapped assistance, detection, military, search and rescue, and registered therapy animals, selflessly serve the public. To honor these animals and their work, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) is launching the 7th Annual ACVO® National Service Animal Eye Exam Event throughout the month of May. More than 250 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will donate their time and resources to provide free eye exam screenings to thousands of eligible service animals. Registration for service animal owners and handlers runs from April 1 – 30 at

Since the program’s launch in 2008, nearly 22,000 service animals have been examined. In addition to dogs, other service animals including horses and even a service donkey named Henry have received free sight-saving exams.

“Early detection and treatment are vital to these working animals,” Stacee Daniel, executive director of ACVO, said. “Our hope is that by checking their vision early and often, we will be able to help a large number of service animals better assist their human friends.”

Ben is a black American Field Labrador who can climb a three-story ladder, unassisted. Ben’s eyesight is vital to his job.  He is a search and rescue dog from Ventura, Calif. that can be called upon at any time to rescue someone who is alive, during a disaster. Ben’s handler, Eric Darling, has brought Ben to participate in the ACVO National Service Animal Eye Exam Event for three years in a row. “Catching something early is huge!” Darling said. “This event ensures that we have the opportunity to get this exam done, with no excuses.”

The event is sponsored by ACVO and generous industry sponsors. Other non-profit supporters that endorse the event include the American Veterinary Medical Association, most state veterinary medical associations in the U.S. and Canada, the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, and other national service animal organizations.


To qualify, animals must be “active working animals” that were certified by a formal training program or organization, or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Owners/agents for the animal(s) must FIRST register the animal via an online registration form beginning April 1 at Registration ends April 30. Once registered online, the owner/agent will receive a registration number and will be allowed access to a list of participating ophthalmologists in their area. Then, they may contact a specialist to schedule an appointment, which will take place during the month of May. Times may vary depending on the facility and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dr. Robert M. Gwin

Animal Eye Clinic    Oklahoma City, OK  73120

405-751-3821  or  800-256-6454

About the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists®

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists® (ACVO) is an approved veterinary specialty organization of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.  Its mission is “to advance the quality of veterinary medicine through certification of veterinarians who demonstrate excellence as specialists in veterinary ophthalmology.” To become board certified, a candidate must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, a one-year internship, a three-year approved residency and pass a series of credentials and examinations. For more information, please visit

Veterinary Dental Specialists Launch Program for Service Dogs

posted July 30th, 2012 by
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American Veterinary Dental College

The first annual American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) Service Dog Oral Healthcare Exam program will be held in August 2012. The event will honor the dogs who selflessly serve the public – guide dogs, service dogs, working and military dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Complimentary oral healthcare examinations will be provided by AVDC veterinary dental specialists.

These AVDC veterinary dental specialists will be looking for signs of periodontal disease, fractured teeth, discolored teeth, oral masses, and other oral and dental diseases that can cause pain or discomfort for service dogs.

Although no treatment will be offered as part of the Service Dog Oral Healthcare Exam program, if oral or dental abnormalities are found, a treatment plan will be laid out that the owner or handler can elect to pursue at a later date. In addition, the veterinary dental specialists will teach service dog owners and handlers about the benefits of preventative oral health care.

Many AVDC veterinary dental specialists have treated service dogs in the past and are well aware that oral pain can prevent these dogs from working effectively. This program will help ensure that America’s service dogs are able to do their important work at peak efficiency.

Owners and handlers of service animals who have been certified from a formal training program, or enrolled in a training program can register on-line between now and August 15 at the AVDC website: Once registered, owners or agents will receive a registration number and a list of participating veterinary dentists in their area whom they can contact to schedule an appointment during August. Times may vary, depending on the facility, and appointments are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.


For further information, contact:



Kenneth M. Capron, DVM


Capron Veterinary Hospital and Dental Clinic for Pets (Animal Dental Clinic of Tulsa)

6705 East 51st Street

Tulsa, OK 74145-7606

(918) 627-5188


David S. Russell, DVM


Veterinary Dental Center of Tulsa

4820 E. 33rd Street

Tulsa, OK 74135



Big PAWprints to Fill

posted July 21st, 2012 by
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Toby blue square2

In October 2010 the world learned about Toby, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who was rescued by Charmaine Hammond and her husband from an animal shelter and later found his purpose as a Pet Therapy Dog. At first, Toby was not what you would categorize as a dog lovers dream; he destroyed everything in his path, had quirky habits that included demolishing toilet tank lids and closets and did everything in his power to get himself sent back to his rescue organization

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Something magical happened when Charmaine realized that Toby (even though he was a dog) needed purpose and focus in his life and redirected his boundless energy into becoming a therapy dog and leaving pawprints on people’s hearts around the globe.

“Bringing kindness to the forefront is a priority for us”, said Hammond. Approximately 160,000 children miss school everyday due to the fear of bullying by other students according to the National Education Association and workplace violence continues to threaten the safety of employees around the world. Cyber bullying is on the rise, more weapons are being found in schools, and an increase in suicides resulting from bullying.
This issue requires attention and intervention.

Sadly, in late 2011 Toby passed away peacefully of natural causes, he was 10 ½ years old, but has left big pawprints to fill. Kindness was a big part of Toby’s mission. In addition to volunteering, Toby also presented to close to 10,000 students and children across North America, raised thousands of dollars for charities and enlisted more than 7,000 on his first kindness mission. Toby’s volunteer work was chronicled in the Chicken Soup for the Soul- what I learned from the dog in 2009. On Toby’s Terms (Bettie Youngs Books, Sept. 2010) was published and is scheduled to become a major motion picture in 2012. Toby’s new children’s series, Toby the Pet Therapy dog (Bettie Youngs Books), was released in 2011. The first book in the series is titled Toby the Pet Therapy dog & His Hospital Friends, and the second in the series Toby Says Be a Buddy, Not a Bully is scheduled for a 2012 release

In honor of Toby, Charmaine and her husband Christopher launched A Million Acts of Kindness – Toby’s Global Mission on February 14, 2012. This mission will be ongoing. The goal is to bring kindness to the forefront in our family, community, workplace, and ultimately, the world. We know from Toby that every act of kindness that is extended leaves a PAWsitive impact and inspires another. The mission will offer activities for classrooms to PAW it Forward, writing and literacy contests pertaining to kindness, Random Act of Kindness events and more!

A Diagnosis No Dog Owner Wants to Hear

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Nancy Gallimore Werhane

A torn anterior or cranial cruciate ligament – the diagnosis no dog owner wants to hear. That is especially true when your dog is not only your best buddy, but also your valued service dog.


But that is the diagnosis David Skaggs, a Vietnam veteran, heard when he took his service dog Toby, a handsome yellow Labrador retriever, to the vet because of a limp. Dr. Dennis Henson, with Hammond Animal Hospital, found that Toby had not only torn his ACL, but also had a malformed knee joint that probably contributed to the injury.


For Toby’s long-term wellbeing and to allow him to continue in his vital role as David’s service dog, he would have to undergo surgery to repair the knee. Traditionally, injuries of this nature have been remedied using a procedure in which the damaged ligament is removed and a large, strong suture replaces it to tighten the joint and provide stability until the dog’s own healed tissue is able to hold the knee in place. However, in larger dogs, fifty pounds or heavier, this procedure may not provide enough stability while the tissue heals. In these cases an advanced procedure called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is proving to be the answer. With this surgery, the tibia is cut and rotated in such a way that the natural weight bearing of the dog actually stabilizes the knee joint.


Though this is a complex surgery that requires a specialist, many experts now believe that TPLO is the best method for repairing a cruciate ligament rupture regardless of the size of the dog. Dr. Henson performed the special procedure on Toby’s knee in January of 2012. Today, Toby has made a full recovery and is back to doing all of the things he enjoys–chasing tennis balls and serving as David’s constant companion and aide.


“Toby is able to turn lights on and off, retrieve the phone, pick up things I’ve dropped and even open doors for me,” said David of his canine counterpart. “My first service dog, Martin, had to retire because of hip problems and, at just seven years, I wasn’t ready for Toby to have to retire too.”


Thanks to Dr. Henson and the staff at Hammond Animal Hospital, retirement is the last thing on Toby’s agenda. David summed up his gratitude in one simple statement, “I can’t imagine my life without Toby by my side.”