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South Florida working dogs gather for free eye exams

Service dogs who provide essential tasks for people who are confronted with a wide range of disabilities recently received star treatment with free eye exams at the VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital in conjunction with Animal Eye Guys, a veterinary clinic with locations Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists National Service Dog Eye Exam program has been offering free eye exams since 2008 during the month of May. The program has 250 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists from across the United States and Canada who have offered free sight-saving exams to over 16,000 service animals.

The community of service animals came from a wide range of service organizations that included Canines for Community Resilience, Lighthouse for the Blind, Look Through My Eyes Beep Baseball team, K9 officers from local police departments, therapy animals from the Broward County Courthouse, Humane Society of Broward County and service canines from Memorial Regional Hospital.

VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital was founded in 1947 and has 21 veterinarians and over 100 technical and support staff members on board. They have been providing free eye exams for the last seven years for service animals that have included dogs, cats, horses and pigs. About 80 service animals who registered in April were the recipients of the free eye exams that were conducted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 5.

Ansel Davis is founder and president of Look Through My Eyes, a nonprofit organization committed to helping other blind and visually impaired people through education, advocacy groups and programs in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. One of those programs involves America’s favorite pastime and is called Beep Baseball.

Davis has been impaired since birth with an eye disease and is considered legally blind. He introduced the Lauderhill Visionaries Beep Baseball team to the public back in January and the community’s response has been favorable. The team practices every Friday at the Lauderhill Sports Complex, 7500 W. Oakland Park Blvd.

Beep Baseball is available for blind or visually impaired athletes and involves a beeping baseball, bases that emit a buzzing noise, six blindfolded players and a fully sighted pitcher and catcher. There are 33 beep baseball teams in the nation. Davis said he is 100% satisfied in the support he has received from the city of Lauderhill.

“We have 19 to 20 visually impaired players on the Lauderhill Visionaries,” he said. “We are doing very well. I’ve been blind 54 years and noticed that many people like myself didn’t know where to go or what to do. Disabled doesn’t mean unable. Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.”

Some of the Beep Baseball Visionaries members attended the free eye exam event put on by VCA.

“A few of us have guide dogs and we have their eyes checked every year,” Davis said. “This is my sixth service dog and I have been using service dogs since 1992. They are a lot better than using a white cane. They allow you to do so many different things and it has been a tremendous benefit for me. It’s like having a Cadillac. My Cadillac is a black Labrador named Everett.”

Retired Lauderhill police officer Debbie Banner is the public relations volunteer for the Visionaries.

“The city of Lauderhill has provided us with uniforms and we are hoping to participate in the Beep Baseball World Series next year,” she said. “What VCA does for the guide dogs every year is just awesome. I’m definitely proud to be part of Ansel’s team and support everybody participating in the event today.”

Read original article on SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL | MAY 09, 2019 | By EMMETT HALL

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