KSU Vets Screen Service Animals

A record-breaking number of Kansas service animals are now cleared for their vital work, thanks to the work of Kansas State University veterinarians.

The ophthalmology team at K-State’s Veterinary Health Center saw a record number of patients during the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists/Epicur Pharma National Service Animal Eye Exam event in May. This was the service’s 15th year participating in the national event, which provides complimentary eye exams for service and working animals each May.

The team — which included professors of ophthalmology Jessica Meekins and Amy Rankin, veterinary nurse Jennifer Klingele and veterinary assistant Jordyn Orrison — saw a total of 77 service and working military dogs at appointments in the health center and off site.

Off-site visits included Kansas Specialty Dog Service, or KSDS, in Washington, Sedgwick County Emergency Management Search and Rescue, Wichita Police Department, McConnell Air Force Base and Fort Riley. The team evaluated 13 dogs at the Sedgwick County location alone.

“While our dogs’ sense of smell is important, their eyesight is incredibly important as well,” said Shannon Jacobs, a team lead for the Sedgwick County Emergency Management K-9 Search all-volunteer team. “These dogs are not only part of a team, but they are also loved members of their families, so knowing if there is a problem early on will help us address the issue sooner versus later.”

During the complete eye exams, Meekins and Rankin looked for problems including redness, squinting, cloudy corneas, retinal disease, early cataracts and other serious abnormalities. Early detection and treatment are vital for these animals.

“It’s an honor to provide screening eye exams to the animals that give so much to their owners and handlers,” Meekins said. “We look forward to providing this service every year and are very excited that the word is spreading in the community to increase registration. It was a record year, and we look forward to even more exams next year.”

Those interested in scheduling an appointment during next year’s event should watch for registration to open in April 2025.