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Without her service dog, Marguerite Maddox said she wouldn’t be able to live independently with cerebral palsy and hearing difficulties. The 10-year-old Lab-mix helps Maddox open doors, alerts her to dangers and assists her if she falls.

That’s why it was important for Maddox to have Jello’s eyes examined Thursday during free checkups for service animals.

“Her eyesight is very important — for everyone with service dogs,” Maddox said.

Jello was among a couple hundred dogs who were expected to have their eyes checked this month by ophthalmologists from BluePearl veterinary hospitals.

“Eyes, if anything, are very nonforgiving, so the earlier we can recognize things that are going on, the better chance we have of helping out the service animals that have problems,” said Dr. Susette Aquino of BluePearl. “It’s nice to be able to interact with people whose pets have given them so much of themselves.”

Animals eligible for the eye exams include guide dogs, police dogs, detection dogs, handicapped assistance dogs and therapy animals.

This was the ninth year Jello has had her eyes examined. The ninth annual National Service Dog Eye Exam event was organized by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology and StokesRx.

“Jello did great,” Aquino said. “Just tiny little things that we’ll keep an eye on, but nothing that will effect her performance, and that’s the best news.”

Henry, a 5-year-old yellow Lab, had positive results, too, from his eye exam, which was good news for his owner Kathy Scott. She said Henry plays a vital role in helping her manage Type 1 diabetes. Henry can detect changes in Scott’s blood sugar level, get her help in an emergency and fetch her medication.

“I see how valuable he is to my lifestyle,” said Scott, 58, of Dearborn. “His health and care is a huge priority for me. I want to stay on top of any issues that might come up.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2311

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