Kent County service animals receive free eye exams

Posted at 11:17 PM, May 21, 2016

ROCKFORD, Mich. — Service dogs, even horses, received free eye exams courtesy of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists on Saturday. This is the ninth annual National Service Animal Eye Exam in Kent County.

Dr. Harriet Davidson, of Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners and GD Veterinary Ophthalmology, donated her time to screen the animals.

"They definitely need good vision to perform their activities," Davidson said. "We want to make sure that they're comfortable in doing those activities and that they don't need anything extra."

Guide, hearing assistance, search and rescue, and police dogs were just some of the services animals to receive the free eye exams.

"We're looking very carefully for any kind of abnormalities so that we can potentially treat it earlier so that the animal can remain in service," Davidson said.

Horses used for street patrols by the Kent County Sheriff's Department also underwent exams.

"It's fun for me to be able to look at these working horses because I know they're really well behaved most of the time," Davidson said.

Hilian Rakow is thankful for the free service. Rakow's dog 'Lego' was featured on FOX 17 during last year's free eye exam when a tumor was discovered in the dog's eye.

Lego is now a retired member of the Kent County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team.

"He could search and navigate quite well on terrain, he was unable to see barbed wire fencing," Rakow said. "(Lego) is now quite often the barn dog, we use him to train new horses to be exposed to dogs."

For the animals that do so much, it's important to make sure they're as healthy as possible, Rakow said.

"They mean so much to us and they contribute to much to the community, I think its a shame that people don't take advantage of this opportunity that has been presented to us," she said.

Davidson said regularly checking a family pet's vision is just as important as checking for fleas and ticks.