There's no stopping Wilma. The poodle has free reign at the Houston Humane Society.

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HOUSTON -- There's no stopping Wilma. The poodle has free reign at the Houston Humane Society. She rides the elevator, goes in and out of offices and is essentially a four-legged employee.

"Wilma lives here 100 percent of the time," said Monica Schmidt. "She's a mascot for the Houston Humane Society and helps us educate the community."

But the 10-year-old dog that was rescued from a puppy mill recently developed cataracts. They caused her to lose vision in both eyes, making her mascot job almost impossible.

"If you tried to give her a treat, she couldn't see it," said Schmidt. "It affected every aspect of her life."

But new technology means new hope for dogs like Wilma.

There's no stopping Wilma. The poodle has free reign at the Houston Humane Society.

Dr. Julie Hempstead is one of a handful of veterinary ophthalmologists in Houston. She performs cataract surgeries on animals.

"It's really rewarding," said Hempstead. "I love coming to work every day. It's a fantastic job."

Similar to the human procedure, Hempstead removes the cataract from the animal's eyes and inserts a tiny lens to correct the vision. When the dog wakes up from anesthesia, it can see clearly again.

"He wakes up, he perks up and wags his tail, excited to see the owner," said Hempstead. "It's really neat to be a part of that."

The procedure at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists typically costs several thousand dollars, but in Wilma's case, Hempstead and the hospital did the surgery for free.

Wilma now has full vision in her left eye. Her right eye was damaged due to complications caused by living in a crowded puppy mill.

"She's at a much better place right now," said Schmidt, who helps take care of Wilma.

The surgery, which is relatively new to the Houston area, can improve the quality of life for pets with cataracts.

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