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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Services, Animals, Education, Special Education, Student Services, Vocational & Technical Schools

Mission: Founded in 1995, Our mission is to educate and place Assistance Dogs to help people with disabilities gain independence and mobility.

Results: ECAD has placed over 200 dogs, in over 25 states, which is made possible by more than 750 teens that have participated in our ECADemy Program. There are over 60 dogs in training at one time and over 30 people waiting to receive a dog.

Target demographics: People with physical disabilities, children effected by Autism, wounded Veterans returning from war and the At Risk Youth trainers that educate our dogs.1.  At-Risk IndividualsThe agencies in which ECAD’s PALS programs operate, serve some of society’s most troubled children and their families in both residential and community settings, providing them with therapeutic care as well as support and skills necessary to succeed as adults:• 87% of the residents are referred through New York City’s child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice systems, and come from the city’s most impoverished and violent neighborhoods.• 68% of the children admitted to these Residential Treatment Centers have suffered neglect.• 36% have been physically or sexually abused.• 43% have had prior psychiatric hospitalizations.• 39% have made suicidal gestures or attempts• 43% have engaged in delinquent behaviors prior to admission.Most of the children come from families with serious emotional or substance abuse problems: • 78% of the children have one or more parents who are substance abusers. • 45% of the children have a parent in prison, • 30% have a parent with serious psychiatric problems.• Approximately 66% of those served are African American, 27% are Latino, 5% are Euro-American and 2% are from other racial/ethnic backgrounds

Direct beneficiaries per year: ECAD averages 15 dogs placed per year with individuals, and rehabilitation facilities.

Geographic areas served: NATIONAL

Programs: Today ECAD's training program produces a wide variety of Assistance Dogs: Service Dogs assist individuals with physical disabilities by acting as their arms and legs. The dogs are trained to perform a variety of tasks (e.g., retrieve items, activate light switches, open and close doors, assist with balance) specific to the needs of each individual. Specialty Dogs to assist children with Autism spectrum disorders in a variety of areas including emotional bonding, socialization support, cognitive development, and physical safety. Skilled Companion Dogs are placed with individuals who need support but are too young or ill to handle a Service Dog. These dogs are well socialized, trained in basic obedience, and can be trained to perform more advanced tasks based on an individual’s needs. Facility Dogs are placed in nursing homes, hospitals, private practice settings, alternative schools, or anywhere their therapeutic support is needed. These dogs have been well socialized; obedience trained, and can be trained to work in patient therapy programs.

Community Stories

123 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Cindy C.5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have always known about service dogs and the importance of them, but the publication of Until Tuesday (service dog extraordinaire who was trained by ECAD), truly educated me on the different service dogs out there...the invisible wounds of PTSD, Autism support dogs are just the tip of the iceberg on what assisted accomplishments these highly trained dogs can do...non profits like ECAD are crucial.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It has been an honor to support ECAD over the years and now to be a monthly contributor. The work the trainers do with the dogs is unbelievable. The dogs go out into the community prepared and confident to handle any situation that arises. What an incredible organization, making a difference in the world. Who wouldn’t want a dog trained by ECAD.
#bethechange

Marcia Harper S.

Donor

Rating: 5

This group of people are a family, with one goal in mind, to help disabled people and vets have a better quality of life. They are dedicated, kind, and caring. They are very professional. I have supported them monthly since 2015.

Client Served

Rating: 5

ECAD is a very special organization which has helped me and my family greatly. I have a severe neuro-muscular disease, cannot walk and am permanently confined to a power wheelchair. I am also a wife and mother of 2 children. ECAD trained and provided a service dog for me. This dog has given me back the independence that my disease took away. Before ECAD, I was scared to be alone or go anywhere on my own. Now with my service dog, I am able to go out in public and enjoy my independence. The dog is trained to open doors, turn on lights, retrieve objects, help with clothing, etc. The training my service dog received is way in excess of industry standards. Also through the training I received, I am capable of taking care of the dog properly and making sure that the dog and I are safe in public. Not only does the dog help me, but now my family is relieved that I am in good "paws" when they are not around. While my disability will never go away, ECAD and my service dog have made it easier to live. Thank you ECAD for everything you do!!

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Last August, I received a service dog from ECAD and he has changed my life! I have a neuromuscular disease and am confined to the use of an electric wheelchair to get around. I was desperate to maintain my independence, and not become dependent on my family or caregivers. My amazing Service Dog has made this possible. I no longer worry about getting around or being safe when he is with me. The ECAD organization empowered me and my Service Dog. Their dedication and expertise is a combination that makes this a very special organization.

Lisa G.9

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 21 year old daughter trained and came home with her service dog earlier this year. Honor has not only changed my daughter’s life but has changed the rest of the family’s life, too. My daughter has the independence she wanted and needed. Her confidence has increased in all areas of her life. Lu chose the best dog for her! They are an incredible team together.

Cassidy G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I got a service dog at 19. Lu and Dale were amazing with matching me with the perfect service dog for me! He is amazing. They also always answer email and always help with extra training! Sonoma has gone back to ECAD for functions and I love To volunteer with them. I recommend ECAD highly!!!

1 Cheryl C.7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I signed up as a home handler to help out with the pups and give them a weekend out of the kennels. Being able to give them a home to relax in, take naps, and meet new people has actually brought me some very nice “therapy” because of how much love they give back. I think I get more out of having them in my home and loving them, then just a weekend foster mom. Seeing all the good that these pups provide when they graduate and become a service dog, has made me be a true supporter of ECAD. I highly recommend ECAD to anyone looking for a way to give back (volunteer) or to someone who needs a service dog.

Donor

Rating: 5

Tuesday and Luis led me to ECAD. Their story of how Tuesday turned Luis’ life around after he returned from war with so many physical and emotional disabilities is so powerful and heartwarming. Service dogs are a crucial part of life for many people living with disabilities, and I believe in their healing power so very much. I applaud ECAD for their dedication to making the world better, one service dog at a time.

Michele C.5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I truly respect the work of this organization. They train and care for these dogs that help so many people in so many ways. The trainers and manager, especially Linda, keep this organization running in tip top shape. The trainers and volunteers demonstrate so much love to these animals... This is evident when you foster these beautiful dogs for a weekend or a week. I absolutely respect and appreciate this organization,,,,,,and I am proud to be a small part of it.

Shirley K.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently an ECAD volunteer. I am so very impressed with the staff at this facility who work tirelessly to train the dogs to help those in need. I have personally witnessed them at work and am always amazed at what they do. The pups here are great and so very well cared for. To Lu, Linda ,Erica and the rest, the dogs are part of their family. I very much enjoy volunteering at the center as well as taking pups home for the weekend. I am truly honored to be a part of this wonderful organization.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

ECAD trains dogs to be service dogs. The life saving role they play for veterans and civilians alike is phenomenal.

1 Hailey G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Granted it took years of waiting, but ECAD paired me the perfect dog! I brought Honor home in May of this and my life has already changed so much, for the better. Honor goes everywhere with me and having him with me makes me feel safe and secure. Even after a week of having him home, I felt like my balance had improved tremendously. I can’t give ECAD enough praise for the amazing work they do!

Diane Ramaglia B.

Donor

Rating: 5

Lu and Dale Picard are the most incredible, caring, kind, loving, and admirable people who devote their entire lives to helping adults and children dealing with visible and invisible disabilities become independent through the training of their puppies into the most inspiring service Canines. I personally have had the heartwarming occasions to work with one of their service dogs. He was so very well trained and knew and understood his many commands which was enlightening for sure. The ECAD founders and their staff are remarkable in so many beautiful ways, giving of themselves to raise these beautiful puppies for others in need. I support ECAD in any way I can with heartfelt thanks for all they do.

Emily-Catherine M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ECAD has saved me. I started volenteering for my mental health as I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD and going through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I don't have many happy moments these days but every moment with an ECAD dog is the happiest time. I have really taken to being a volenteer. The staff is so friendly and wonderful. It is not often a new place feels "safe" for me but at ECAD I know I can be open and honest about my mental health. It's the place where my panic attack means a dog can improve their training. I don't feel broken when I am at ECAD. My disability feels like a strength. One of the best things in my life right now is Ecad. The picture is from the ECAD Facebook of me and the puppy Nova at training.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Reading Until Tuesday is what brought me to know of ECAD. What keeps me here is all the great things they do for so many people.....

Lisa S.19

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

ECAD trains these dogs thoroughly. The dogs are well taken care of. ECAD is as dedicated to their dogs as to the person they are placed with.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2016 I was hired by ECAD as a Kennel Assistant. Because of my history of being emotionally abused my selfesteem was very low. ECAD has allowed me to become more confident in myself. The dogs that are educated there have become my reason for being. Even they know when I have a down day and always try to cheer me up. And usually they do. So if they can do that for me then you know the positive impact they give our clients.

kimber-la

Client Served

Rating: 1

I was a client first. I was a volunteer 2nd and an employee third. The organization and work environment was horrific. There is no professionalism, skirting the rules, keeping silent auction items for themselves, fighting, screaming...when I left, the family refused to return my personal belongings and failed to pay me my wages, contract and supplemental pay. It took 18 months with the Dept of Labor. I was the first to make a claim and others soon followed. When I left the owners spread false rumors, had other clients attack me verbally, threaten me and then the owners refused to me as a team with my dog! I was the public access certifier for the teams---they use sponsors and donors and veterans as puppets. Couldn't be organized to do any lobbying or outreach either. They pick and choose their clients as well...

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I know this organization does some wonderful work, however they're methods are a bit abusive. I have seen with my own eyes the amount of time their dogs spend in their crates. Yes, that's right, I said crates. They're not runs, they're crates. Most of the dogs were too big to even be able to stretch out in them, or stand erect in them. They're paws would be pressing against the front of the metal. Plus they can't see out of the crate because they're plastic. Please see my facebook page where there is more information.
Andrea M. Smith

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Lizzy my Service Dog and I have gone one many adventures since we became a team on Memorial Day, May 2011. My PTSD and service connected disabilities has up and down days. Lizzy is there with me through them all. ECAD teaches their Service Dogs well, they are family to us. I am grateful to Lu and Dale Picard whom started this organization years ago in their garage. Their vision and dreams have become reality for so many of their Service Dog teams. Improving our quality of life is a blessing. Thank you to my ECAD family.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

as a combat disabled veteran, is an alumni and graduate of project heal. lizzy my service dog and i have been a team for several years and been on many adventures. she is a blessing to me and i am lucky to have her in my life.

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5

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a retired combat us army soldier. i served a tour of duty in afghanistan in 2003. During my retirement, my case manager suggested a service dog to assist me with my various disabilities including mobility and ptsd. Lizzy and I graduated on the 27th of May, 2011. Since we became a service dog team, I am not afraid to go outside, a fear of unkown, unkown if I would fall or not. Lizzy is by my side making sure all goes smoothly for me. Thank you to ECAD's and Project Heal for all they do.

8

Donor

Rating: 5

In response to consumer1:

I am a member of a local veterans’ organization. We have been dealing with ECAD as a donor for a number of years. The focus of our support has been Project HEAL which places service dogs with physically and/or emotionally disabled veterans. I read the comments of “consumer1” with dismay and felt compelled to give a contrasting viewpoint.

I think that “consumer1’s” expectations of ECAD are unrealistic and his/her criticisms basically without merit. First, ECAD is making approximately a $25,000 investment in each service dog it provides. Requiring only a $500 non-refundable deposit after being accepted into ECAD’s Program (Civilian Program or Project HEAL ) on a $25,000 investment is beyond generous. Second, I have never heard of a case where a civilian or veteran who followed the rules of the ECAD Program did not receive a service dog. Third, ECAD requires the recipient to meet certain standards for caring for their service dog. I am sorry, but if the recipient does not have the financial resources himself/herself or via family and friends to come up with a $500 non-refundable deposit for an investment that will change his/her life, the odds of him/her having the resources to provide ECAD’s required level of care for their service dog are very low and the dog should go to someone else.

Based on my experience, I can say with confidence that Westchester’s veterans’ organizations are firmly behind ECAD and enthusiastically support Project HEAL. Everyone who happens to read the review posted by “consumer1” ought to (1) read the other 100 reviews also, and (2) look at ECAD’s Charity Navigator Evaluation where it has a “four star (highest possible)” rating. “Consumer1” would be better off focusing on trying to find a service dog elsewhere rather than bashing ECAD on this website where his comments clearly reflect a minority view.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

In response to Consumer1:

I am assuming you have not had much interaction with ECAD. They are some of the most dedicated and hardworking people I have ever had the pleasure of supporting. They have gone far above and beyond for every client I have ever encountered there, as well as to ensure their donors they are efficiently allocating the funds they collect. I would recommend this organization to anyone in need of their services. They are a ray of light among the clouds for those feeling hopeless or overwhelmed due to a disability.

5 hazelangeleyes4u

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a client of ECAD and can talk having first hand experience with ECAD. I applied with ECAD 10 years ago and the commitment fee then was $500. I am currently waiting on my second ECAD dog. ECAD commits to all their clients, the instructors are there to help, they return emails and phone calls and treat their graduates like family. ECAD is a hardworking, honest group of people. I would like to clarify a few things in the above review. 1) Yes ECAD has a $500 commitment fee but that is after the face to face meet and greet interview, and only if the person would like to proceed with ECAD. 2) ECAD uses agreements not contracts, having an ECAD service dog is an ongoing relationship with the organization. It is team work and trust on both sides that makes it work. 3) ECAD has a person dedicated to helping with fundraising. And the dogs are amazing I have seen many of them at various ECAD events as well as living with my own ECAD service dog for the past 10 years. Anyone in need of a Service Dog would be lucky to get an ECAD dog and it is well worth the effort and time the clients put in while their dog is being trained.

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1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Donna and I was born with Muscular Dystrophy. I am in a wheelchair and went to ECAD in 2004 to receive a service dog. I have "Haley" since Dec 2004. She is a wonderful Golden Retriever who has changed my life in so many ways. She picks up things I drop, helps open doors, and much more.

Review from Guidestar

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2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

ECAD is all about the money. First to ask for a $500 non-refundable deposit from someone who is disabled and probably on a limited income speaks for itself. The deposit is to show commitment from the client with no commitment from ECAD. They expect payment in full without a written contract with a specific scheduled training. There are inconsistencies with information in their documents. Their communication with a perspective client while the client is trying to raise funds is poor. Their lack of knowledge of fundraising resources to share with clients is poor as well. I cannot speak about how well their dogs are trained but I will not recommend this agency due to their lack of integrity.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Four years ago I became a client of ECAD upon receiving my service dog Garrison. He truly changed my life. ECAD provided me with a highly trained service dog (80+ commands), and the personalized training to take care of him and safely navigate in public. I was fighting the constant battle of trying to remain independent in spite of my disability. He enabled me to maintain my independence and give my family piece of mind, knowing that he is always by my side. This is an extremely high quality dedicated organization that really does help 3 people (the client, the trainer and the dog)!! Since receiving Garrison, my family members have become volunteers to try and help others receive the fantastic gift that I was given. We are proud to be members of the ECAD family.

Previous Stories
3

Client Served

Rating: 5

ECAD is an amazing organization!! Its mission is critical in helping the disabled through the training and placement of service/facility/companion dogs. As a wheelchair bound person, I recognize the expertise, devotion and compassion that goes into ECAD's work. Their unique service of fostering independence greatly empowers the disabled. These dogs become an extension of the person thereby enabling them in many ways. In addition to providing assistance in retrieving objects, opening doors, turning on/off lights, etc; the dogs perform a safety function as well by getting help/a phone in an emergency. However, a service dog's work is not all physical, emotional support is also provided. It is very difficult to be depressed with a dog around! I consider myself very fortunate to have discovered ECAD and its dogs!!

Review from Guidestar

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We fell in love with this charity a few years ago and went to a few events before finally committing to being Home Handlers. We can't say enough great things about ECAD. We especially love how they support our Military Vets.

2 Beth7Cam

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been a client since 2012. This organization has definitely changed my life. With the help of my Service Dog, Somerset, I am able to be more independent. She help me with everyday tasks, but has also helped me do things I could have never imagined possible (such as taking the Amtrak to visit my parents, who live in another state.)
Somerset has also helped me make friends. People who would never speak to me before I had had the dog now go out of their way to talk to us. I have an incredible bond with my ECAD classmates, who I consider friends for life. Before I had Somerset, I was often anxious in social situations. Having her with me constantly helps me to relax.
ECAD is a wonderful organization. I feel lucky & blessed to be a client.

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received my dog in 2012 and life has definitely changed for the better. My dog Somerset ("Somer") is many things: helper, companion and hero, to name just a few. She gives my life meaning & purpose. Together we can do anything.

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4 Kathleen82

Donor

Rating: 5

I had the great fortune to met an ECAD service dog and his partner, and read about ECAD's exceptional traing methods. It gives me great pleasure to contribute to such a well-grounded charity.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ECAD is an amazing non-profit that helps lives on so many levels. 1. They give independence and new lives to individuals with disabilities, veterans and civilians, adults and children, providing amazingly trained and loving service dogs who provide needed services and connection. 2. They work with at-risk children who train the dogs (under the guidance of professional, gifted trainers), often these children's first experience of loving and caring, changing lives for these children. 3. They have a great bunch of volunteers and advocates who bring the dogs in training into the community. I am a weekend volunteer and the ECAD dogs have brought tremendous joy and growth to my own life. 4. This non-profit is impeccably run. Lu and Dale Picard are so talented at understanding how an organization works at every level. They spend money where it's needed - no wasted money with "Frou frou" fancy stuff or unneeded bureaucracy. Donations and time go where most needed. These people care!!! If you care about people - or dogs - smile - this is an organization worth your time.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

ECAD is a wonderful organization that places service dogs with veterans and others with disabilities. I currently have a wonderful dog named Memphis. He is a mobility assistance dog who also began to alert to my diabetes high and low blood sugars. This is my 3rd ECAD dog, all of them have also helped me in my recovery from child sexual abuse.
The Picards and their staff and volunteers are kind and caring people who tailor each service dog to an individual clients needs. I have recommended ECAD to many people and I am giving them a 5 star rating!
Briana B.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have known the Picards for 12 years now and I just graduated from their bootcamp with my third service dog. Memphis is a mobility assistance/ PTSD support dog. All the staff are professional, very kind and compassionate. They always know how to match the right dog with the right person and I am very happy with my new dog. Lu Picard is an incredible woman and I admire her tremendously. Because I survived horrendous child abuse, I often feel very fragmented. Having the right dog has turned my life around and I can work and have a good social life. I also have a healing spiritual life and I now have moments of great joy. My name is Briana Bittel and my canine partner is Memphis.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I became aware of ECAD through the Explore.org live cams. It was just before Gucci gave birth to the Cheez-Its and I've been a fan and follower ever since! I have found this organization to be one that cares as much about the breeding and care of these magnificent dogs as they do to the future forever humans they match them with. The Picards, Lu and Dale, are truly dedicated to ECAD's mission and it shows by all the people's lives they have touched and made better, who would otherwise have become a statistic. My only disappointment is that I do not live close enough to be an ECAD volunteer.

1 doglovingvolunteers

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter & I have been volunteering at the CT campus for almost 4 years now. The staff that work there are some of the most tireless, hardest working people I have ever had the pleasure to work along side of. We have learned so much from volunteering at ECAD, most of all what true dedication to a cause really looks like. ECAD never feels that their work is good enough. They continually strive to do a better job whether it be educating the dogs, the youth volunteers, staff or the general public. We are truly bless to be part of this wonderful organization. Thank-you ECAD for all that you do!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter & I became volunteers about 2 years ago and we have seen so many people's lies including our own changed by ECAD. Youngs kids learning compassion for others, patience when traning a dog, personal loss & sacrifice from the veterans that are placed with ECAD dogs. I could go on at great length about all the good we've experinced, but I would struggle to be able to list anything NEGATIE ABOUT ECAD other than the need for service dogs is greater than the amount of staff & volunteers.

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1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

ECAD is a seriously run business with a heart of gold mission. Over the past 18 years the organization has grown consistently and is now a leader in the Service Dog industry. As they enter the next generation of their existence, ECAD is building a state-of-the art Canine Education Facility to double their production of expertly trained Service Dogs. I recommend them highly to any serious philanthropist.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 100% disabled veteran. On Retirees Recognition Day at West Point, I met East Coast Assistance Dogs and asked about their program to help the disabled. We had a short conversation and they went to work immediately on my behalf arranging all the paperwork and then I ran it through my physicians at the Veterans Hospital. After 14 months four of us with similar disabilities were brought to their dormitory and we spent a little over two weeks being trained on dogs, their physiology, psychology , care and grooming, all the commands, and working with them in public. We lived with our dogs 24/7 and after a final exam in public we graduated at a special ceremony in a packed civic center. I call our new lives "the miracle of the dogs" as each of us are better off. I don't consider Iris a Golden Retriever. To me she is Iris and as much a part of me as any person could ever get. Together we have driven across the USA twice and flown to Germany. She is close day and night and I could not imagine where I would be today without her. Lt. Col. Bill Northacker, USA, Retired.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I move to CT from PR looking desperetly medical help for my daughter. Something was going on I didnt understand my own daughter. She was no learning at all, etc and the Medical Providers just blame the age and just acting as a normal Hyper child. But I knew something was wrong.

In an instant my word turned upside down. I had to put a side all my goals and dreams including my profession . I had to decide between my dreams or my daughter health. I had to decide gave a huge step back and started from CERO. So without no much time, I had to plan moving to CT in just two weeks. A Saturday I just decided to buy the flight tickets, Monday I gave the notice of my employer that in two weeks I will not longer can work for the company ( a great company). I had to finish in two weeks an ACCESS program I was building and make an user manual. Last day of work Sept 21 and in time could finish the program and the manual. I depart from PR arrived at CT on Sept 22, 2007 at 11 pm alone with my daughter on sept 2007, no family at all. Just with our luggage, medical documents and some of her favorite toys. And a good family that open their house to live with them for a month. I didnt know them, the only thing I knew that my neighbors already knew them.

My daughter have several mental illness. She was diagnosed on 2007 here in Hartford CT with Bipolar I (with hallucinations), ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Depression. A shocking hard diagnose for a child of 7 years old. Despite of her conditions, both commited to be a team to deal with her conditions and fight the good fight learning more about her condition, therapy and through a lot of medications. Actually she takes 6 strong medications twice a day. One of it is Haldol. this med is given to patients in psychiary ER and in top of that it suppose to be Haldol or Seroquel. So finally she had to take both with the other 4 meds. Her condition is more complex and the medication doesnt do what they suppose to do like disappearing-stop the hallucinations. She is sensitive to the meds (affecting her heart) so two of them cannot be increased.

One day a friend (23 years old) was recently diagnosed with bipolar. So I talked to her to talk to my daughter. Remember one of my daughter words to my friend.... "You know? It is so hard to deal with it". Remember she was seeing starring the sidewalk. My friend and I had to hold the tears. My friend had to wrap up the conversation...

Well since I arrived here on 2007, I havent stop looking for all the help, training we can get. One day I saw a news about a problem with a mother that have 2 autism child and their service dog and Mc Donalds. Of course, the issue was the service dog... Then I realized that I should look for a Service Dog Organization that be specialized on service dog for mental illness patients. Looking for an organization with a good reputation and highly experience in mental illness area. Took me around one month to find the one that fits my daughter needs. It was ECAD. It was like God open the heaven for me and my daughter. During that month I learned about laws, web side central service dog, and the Psychiatry Service Dog Society. Remember right now I found ECAD through the PSD Society.

Since the firt time I started to contact them... They are great!!!! All additional information I needed was given to me. I knew inmediatly that it is a truthful and great organization. When I saw they are partners with Veterans Affairs realized inmediatly it is the kind of Organization have fully acknowledge about Service Dog for Mental Illness patients.

We had been working a year (since 2012) to raised the funds. Because I am alone and my daughter conditions had to set limits who are my friends. And yes, I finished kind isolated and harder to do the raise funding.

Josue "Ace" Acevedo, extraordinaire volunteer of ECAD. He is the one who started to teach me how to do fund raising. For me something that I never thought that I couldnt do it. He have been giving me all the support and guiding me through the whole process on ECAD. I found a good church, my church, Calvary Church in West Hartford have been helping me in organizing fund raising, through the Compation Ministry. Melody Chapman is the person who have been in charge to take this wonderful proyect. The Church is very exhited of the stupendous program that have ECAD for people with Disabilites and spread the word. The church have been committed to my daughter cause. We started recycling 5 cents deposit bottles and they sponsord Karla doing a Pancake Breakfast raising funds. We felt so happy and proud doing this proyect. The idea and the person behind this activity (Pancake Breakfast) and came from his heart was Philip and Kristine Parker. We were so happy because we could raised $1,500 and I was so happy. But I was running out of time. We were so far to the goal and I was getting kind of sad because I thought my daughter couldnt make the Team Training for this summer and have to wait a whole year again. I just praying 24/7 for a miracle from God. Asking to the Lord that move the heart of a Person to sponsor Karla. And I know this person will have a great blessing changing the life of my daughter and her future and every person and the church who had been helping giving a chance of a better, quality of life for my daughter.

My daughter is in really needed of the Service Dog, as a child at risk and my health was getting more affected. Kind of 24/7 taking care of my daughter. Lack of sleep, all the responsability as the only headhouse... Too much to handle but never giving up.

The church and our prayers were listened and the miracle had came all over us. Someone completed the amount of the balance due. Barbara gave me the news on June 4. That day I was so stressed out and with an anxiety attack. Had to return home inmediatly. I always overcome this but this time was a hard one. While I was trying to relax like 30 min later I received the call of Barbara Jenkel. When she asked me if we could do the training for this summer and someone paid the big balance due. I was shoked I had to make sure i was not dreaming when I finished with Barbara by phone. I laughed, I cried of hapiness because the first thing comes to my mind my daughter now will have a future and all the blessing that will come with it. I had to knee and give thanks for the things that God had done and how God direct people to open their heart to help us. Giving a chance of a better life to childs and adults at risk.

ECAD and Josue "Ace" Acevedo are stupendous and fantastics. Doing a great job for all their clients. They are at the Top of any expectation.

Calvary Church and the person who open its heart for this great gift of life.

All together changed our lives and future for good. My daughter is thanksful because she have dreams to be an useful and successfull person for this world. We both have a better look at her future.

I WILL BE THANKSFULL FOR EVER.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Troy Roberts has Autism. We went to ECAD 3 years ago for help. We got a beautiful "yellow puppy" named Sierra. Actually, she chose my son. Once you are in ECAD's door, you become family.
They make sure you are trained properly and even answer "dumb" questions. Troy didn't have many words 3 years ago, but now he is trying to command Sierra. It's cute when he plays lay down boy and she will respond to him. When I was trying to get even information about a service dog for Troy, Ohio had nothing for us. When I called ECAD I got fast response! I couldn't believe it. I think it took us 6 - 8 months total time from first phone call until Sierra was home with us. Ecad keeps in touch or you can always call them with questions. If you can make a higher recommendation than 5 stars, it would be infinate. Thank you ECAD !!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We are currently in the process of getting our dog for our son who has a mitochondrial disease. We will be attending our training camp this summer. Our experience up to this point has been very good. This firm is professional, caring and compassionate. We attended our interview in November 2011 and had a very good experience. The organization keeps us updated and quickly answers any questions we have. It's a top notch firm.

Board Member

Rating: 5

ECAD's staff and volunteers are some of the most giving, caring people I've ever met. As both a board member and recipient of their services, I am especially aware of their hard work and dedication. The staff works together, not only to train the service dogs and the trainer/students, but also to help raise funds for the organization.
I have recieved two service dogs from ECAD. My first dog, Elli, worked from the day I brought her home in March, 2000, right up until a week before she died in September, 2011. She was literally a lifesaver, waking me when my father's ventilator alarm went off. At the time of my interview, I thought that would be the only thing I needed a service dog for. Was I wrong!! With Elli, my life became so much easier! She would pull my wheelchair for miles, help me with the grocery shopping, and perform a myriad of tasks that I would find difficult without her.
In March, 2013, my second service dog, McGrew, came home with me. With his help, I am able to work part time, even though I suffered another spinal cord injury. He pulls me to work and home every day, picks up everything I drop (and I drop a LOT of items) and loves to get things off the shelves in the supermarket for me. McGrew has become a special part of our community because of his loving personality and calmness. When our area was devastated by a tropical storm 6 months ago, ours was one of the few businesses that remained open. Lines were long and people were devastated by the loss of their homes. McGrew, like Elli before him, seemed to know who needed him most. He accepted lots of hugs during those trying times. Our "don't pet" policy went out the window with these dire circumstances, and he spent hours calming people. After each encounter, McGrew would climb onto my lap as if to say " I love you the most." Who but the most caring individuals like those at ECAD could raise and train dogs of this caliber.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was almost 10 years ago that ECAD paired me with Elli, my service dog. At the time I thought the only thing I would need a dog for would be to wake me up when my father's ventilator alarm went off. Because I have both Muscular Dystrophy and a spinal cord injury, I use a wheelchair or crutches to get around. At the time I applied for a dog, I felt I was totally independent - I just couldn't walk. Now I'm lost without Elli's help. Before I had Elli, I would have to go to the supermarket 3 or 4 times a week, because I couldn't many items while pushing the wheelchair. Elli was able to pull me through the supermarket while I piled my lap high with the groceries for the whole week! When we were finished, Elli would pull me to the car while carrying a bag of groceries in her mouth. She would also get things off the lower shelves for me. Her only drawback was that she absolutely refused to pick up store brand marshmallows, even though she never tasted one in her life - so we had to buy name brand. Elli came to Mass with me every weekend, and would help pass the collection plate. She would carry cold cuts in her mouth without ever trying to taste them. She was so well trained it was amazing! Two of ECAD's students spent 2 days teaching Elli to respond to my father's ventilator alarm. Because I had her, he was able to get his wish of dying at home surrounded by his family and friends. She saved his life twice! Elli also carried my briefcase into court when I was working. Many of us joke that she was better at plea bargaining than I was, and my clients should hire her and forget about me. Justices have told me that the courtroom was much more relaxed when Elli was there. When I suffered another injury about 2 1/2 years ago, Elli was by my side. She had to work harder at age 11 than she did when she was young. The harder she worked, the harder her tail wagged. Elli just retired. When I'm ready to get another service dog, I'll make sure to go to ECAD! I also became a volunteer for ECAD and have sat on the board of directors for several years. I wanted to do more, so I became a home handler. First, I had to go through training, of course, because it's very easy to spoil these lovable dogs. A home handler takes a puppy or young dog from Thursday evening through Monday morning. We keep practicing the commands with these pups, help socialize them, and work on the commands they need the most help with. Monday mornings, they're back at school where their student trainers teach them whatever they need to learn and continue their socialization. We get to watch them grow from chewing puppies to adolescent service dogs. Though we try hard not to, we bond with the dogs and miss them when they go out on a team. We're like proud parents when we receive updates on the dogs we've handled, and watching them go off into the world with their new handler is akin to watching your child graduate school and go off into the world. It's bittersweet, but such a rewarding sight.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ECAD is a wonderful, thoughtful organization that works tirelessly at training and providing service dogs to so many, particularly our returning soldiers that depend on these wonderful creatures to give them the freedom to return to live as it was or as close as it ever can be again. This service is invaluable to our veterans and the people that love them.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I volunteer with one of ECAD's dogs and visit patients, families and assist in many physical therapy groups in the hospital that I work for. The difference these dogs make in peoples lives is immeasurable. You cannot appreciate the value fully until you witness it first hand. Stroke patients are motivated to rehab, children with special needs open up as they never have before and provide an avenue for the therapist and parents to reach them. They bring a smile to every face the visit and for some patients that have been hospitalized for an extended period of time, it is an escape for just a short time and renews their hope and motivation to get better and go home to their pets. Thank you ECAD for all that you do.

ciccottic

Client Served

Rating: 5

We received a service dog through ECAD and my daughters whole life was changed. He provided balance for her and that gave me peace of mind. The staff and volunteers made our experience so wonderful. we give them 5 stars!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Danielle Ciccotti and I am 16 years old. I have had a service dog since I was 6 yrs old. My 1st dog died in Aug 2009. In Oct I submitted an application to ECAD and they saved my life by allowing me to be in their Nov bootcamp. I left bootcamp with a dog named Rover. He was very different then my 1st dog. He has made me very good at throwing, reading, walking,he helps me break the ice with people and I use to have terrible tummy aches. But now all that has changed. I love Rover so much. He is the best dog in the workd. He goes to High School with me and that is not an easy place to be. ECAD really cares about the client.

3 Lu P.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am one of the founders of ECAD and 17 years ago I was looking for a career that I could be passionate about. I wanted to work with dogs, I wanted to help kids that do not get along in the typical schools, and I wanted to help people with limitations. With the help and dedication of my husband and children I was able to make it all work for us. 17 years later I am so proud of what ECAD has become. There is no way I could have done this without the help, loyalty, and commitment of ECAD's staff, volunteers, clients and supporters. I applaud them for helping make my dream a reality. I love all you guys and totally amazed by the work we are able to do as a group. All the reviews, praise, and a magical moments truly belongs to all that are involved with ECAD. This non profit belongs to the community and it is the community that makes it as good as it is. With much love and sincerity Lu Picard

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Client Served

Rating: 5

The entire ECAD team is wonderful! From application to graduation everyone we met wore their heartsontheir sleeves and always had a hand ready to help in every way.

Cayla L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received Billy Spezzano this past summer and he has changed my life in so many ways, thanks to ECAD. During Team Training, everyone was so helpful in making sure that we worked well together. Lu is very understanding when it comes to the client's needs and has helped me so much, even after Team Training. I've looked at other Service Dog organizations but I felt that they made it more of a business than an actual place to help people, which is why I chose ECAD. I felt more at home when I was there.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

Having Muscular Dystrophy, makes me dependent on a wheelchair and others for help constantly. A Service Dog would help me gain some independence back and would also take a little bit of weight off my family. After visiting a Service Dog facility in November of last year and in a way being scammed to give money without knowing if I could even be matched with a dog, I almost gave up on looking until I found ECAD online. In March of this year, I applied there for a Service Dog and got a response back the next day to plan an interview date. When I visited the Dobbs Ferry, NY facility in June, the staff made me feel extremely comfortable and were great about certain accommodations. I also got to meet some of the dogs and tour the facility. As of right now, I'm fundraising for a dog and will hopefully do Team Training sometime in the Fall of 2012. I'm very excited to be able to have a chance to go through this experience and I'm very glad that it's with ECAD.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What a wonderful organization that does miraculous things!! ECAD has, time and time again, proven that we are all here to help each other, including the furry four-footed ones :) Lu Picard is compassionate, generous, and was blessed to be born with such a wonderful heart to help others. She has the most amazing patience and looks to do the right thing, all the time! As a handler of one of her dogs in a hospital-based setting, I see her warmth and gentleness in the eyes of Pumpkin; it is simply infectious! Through her efforts, I have single-handedly experienced the gift of canine assistance to our patients and employees. In addition, she has boosted my faith in the human and canine race, that we are all here for a reason, to be here for each other, no matter what "disabilities" we may possess!

2 Leigh G.

Donor

Rating: 5

Lu Picard is very passionate about her vision with the ECAD organization. I have worked with Lu for many years with the Nutro Company donating food for her dogs. Her organization is very professional and she genuinely carries about the recipients who receive the canines. I have been invited and attended many graduations, civilians and military personnel coming back from war. The true work she does brings tears to your eyes when they officially present the dogs to the people who need them to do the simplest of things in life. It is truly life changing for the recipients.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My handicap daughter needed help with her everyday life and ECAD fulfilled that need with a smart, wonderful companion that far exceeded her needs. He is such a wonderful addition to her life and helps in so many ways, as well as fills her heart with joy. Everyone at ECAD is exceptional and my daughter loved everyone. They are professional, caring, and very knowledgeable in their field. Couldn't have a better experience.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been affiliated with ECAD since the beginning of the program. I am a Mental Health Professional who has worked with Emotionally Traumatized youth for over 30 years. These young children and adolescents help in training the dogs to become service dogs for physically and mentally handicapped individuals, offering them greater independence and self worth. In turn, our youth, who have suffered unspeakable traumas, begin the healing process through the dogs that love them and teach them about caring for all living things. It is a remarkable program that has changed hundreds of childrens lives that I have worked with. I have another story to tell however, as not to long ago I became sick with a debilitating disease and had one of the ECAD dogs. I now understand, on a very personal level, what a gift a service dog is, providing companionship when you're alone when the rest of the world keeps going on, offering the dignity of independence, and freely giving the sense of self worth. The staff, volunteers and founders of ECAD are all a remarkable group of people, and they do this work because they care. I am honored to be affiliated with them. Kathy Forte

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We recently received Allen, our handsome, smart and well mannered therapy dog. He is a pleasure and a joy to work with and has done wonders in raising the spirits of not only our patients but our staff as well.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Its a great program....and i will always will be there for them.....

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received Honey last November. Because of her I have considerably improved my life. I was fast becoming more and more trapped in my own house. I have almost completely turned my life around enjoying my family and leading an almost normal life. She is also responsible for just about eliminated my night terrors. There are no words that I can express that can explain here what she has done for me.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I got gigi from ECAD in the winter of 2010. Me and gigi have sure had a journey so far. The journey started the year I got gigi. That spring of 2010 Me and gigi won a scholarship to attend the ADA conference in Denver. It was really cool to see other people with disabilities with there service dogs. We really enjoyed ourselves there that week. I have very bad rheumtoid arthritis and depression, so getting gigi has helped alot when the days are tough to get around. The big challenge was yet to come! In 2011, I was layed off from job in march in 2011, so having gigi helped me with that transistion of not working. Then last fall my world turn upside down. I got very sick at end of october. I thought, I had a touch of the flu. Boy! Was I wrong, The day before Halloween, it SNOWED! I was very sick! I had to call the ambulence, I couldn't walk! The medics came, and I took my gigi with me! There was no way I was going to leave her behind. I was admitted into the hospital and I was hospitalized for two months! Gigi got to stay with me there at the hospital for the first week! Because the snow and ice was so bad upstate! But, a wonderful volunteer from ECAD, helped out and took care of gigi for me well I was in the hospital. It was really hard to have her gone though! I ached so bad for her. But, I knew she was safe, loved, and not that far. My bond for gigi is know even stronger! I want her to grow into an older doggie! She helps me everyday. When I am feeling down, and she knows when I am upset she knows. The people at ECAD are great people! Lu and dale spend so much time with the service dogs, they want you to really have the best service dog for you. Until you are confronted with a life of disabled person, you really don't know until your there, it doesn't mean that your life is over! It just changes and you as that person has to adapt to your new reality. Me and gigi are a team. From Richard J. Cortez & Gigi.

Lee O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

ECAD is a life changing organization. With ECAD and my service dog Brady I have my life back.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

As a retired police officer suffering with PTSD ECAD has given me my life back. Housebound and not wanting any contact with the outside world I starting reading articles on service dogs that helped with my disability. When I arrived at ECAD for the first time I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the staff and volunteers.
Now that I have my Dog Brady I am finally able to get on the road to a better life. Lu, Phil and Barbara thank you for all you do, your amazing people.

1 Sarah75

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been a volunteer and an employee (currently both) at ECAD since Nov. 2005. I can say without a doubt that by working with this organization, much of my self-confidence has been restored. Learning to train service dogs has strengthened my social work and people skills. I am now working with younger children again through ECAD. I studied education in undergraduate school, so working with children again is wonderful. And I love being able to help train these dogs. To date, I have been a home handler for 63 service-dogs-in-training. I am a very lucky person!!!

1 Kari H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

What can i say about ECAD?? Nutmeg, our therapy dog at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood Florida, works daily with our young patients in rehab helping them learn to walk again, learn to balance and to regain muscle strength. Of course, for Nutmeg, this means being pet, brushed and playing fetch or "tug". She is an ever-present joy throughout the hospital; bringing smiles to everyone she meets - children, families and staff. We can't thank ECAD enough for training us and training Nutmeg for our facility. We love them all!
Kari

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a registered nurse and manager in a very busy hospital. The thought of adding another task to my laundry list of duties I perform daily becomes chilling. However, volunteering one hour a day to round on my patients with "Lily" our hospital's Service/Therapy dog is the most rewarding part of my day! "Lily" always brings smiles to the patients, their families and the staff. She assists with motivating, stress reduction and bringing the "Healing environment" to our facility.

2 miclama2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had a service dog from ECAD for the past 5 years now and I don't know how I could live alone without him. I am a disabled police officer with a very rare disease similar to MS and has me confined in a wheelchair. Lu & Dale went all out to match me up with the perfect dog. He knows where I am all the time and won't let me out of his sight no matter who is around. he helps me with my daily tasks without even giving him a command. I can't thank them enough.

1 Natalie23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This company is a major role to our society, ECAD is able to help and support many people with all types of disabilities. The animals they train are able to physically and emotions help their owners get through their different life situations. I have been to a CT facility and gotten to personal meet some of their dogs at different levels of their training. I have seen this company's employees and see them work with their animals and am proud to know that an organization like this is around.

Greg23

Client Served

Rating: 5

ECAD has done so much more than just help me with my independence, but also changed me as a person. I have gained confidence as an individual beyond a level never thought imaginable. There is a reason why I returned to ECAD once my first service dog that I received from them retired. If there are any people in the entire world that deserve undying recondition, it is Lu and the rest of the staff at ECAD.

2 ssgtleslie2

Client Served

Rating: 5

after my return from my deployment in Afghanistan, 2004 and 2005 are hazy and cloudy. suffering from ptsd and lower extremity problems, i isolated myself from family and friends. staying home or going to my local va medical center for doc appointments. in the fall of 2006 i made the discuss it was going to by my the last year i held a full time job because of my disabilities. during my army retirement process, my army wounded warrior case manage suggest ecads for a service dog. after my interview, i received the welcome letter and packet in the mail accepting me into their program. i that, boot camp, i am too old to start now. lu and her staff creates a warm, patient, and welcoming environment. during my two weeks of training, lu and her staff made me smile and laugh. with encouraging words and hugs, i know i would graduate. i am very luck to have lizzy, my service dog in my life. this past memorial day was the first parade in 7 yrs i attended and all because of ecads and lizzy. thank you for not giving up on me and having the belief in me to succeed.

1 Barbara23456

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for ECAD for 15 years and have worked with the kids, clients and dogs. They way they all meld together and give a more positive life to all three is amazing and probably surpasses any other program i have seen. it is a win,win,win situation. Everybody learns from the experience.

1 Robert234567

Client Served

Rating: 5

In May of 2008 I was in a horrific car accident resulting in being paralyzed from the chest down. Prior to my accident I was very independent in life and also was very active in my community. I served as the towns volunteer Fire Chief for four years. After my accident I became very depressed not being able to do the things I once did freely. I had heard about service dogs in rehab but didn’t understand fully what they would do for me. Two years after coming home from the hospital I received a call from ECAD advising me that my application for a service dog was approved. Since being paired with my dog Mack, my life has changed dramatically. I am once again out and about and still involved with the fire company as much as possible. Mack accompanies me to college and is of great assistance. I cannot imagine my day without Mack as he is a great boost for my confidence in many day to day tasks. I cannot thank ECAD enough for the wonderful job they do with these dogs and the great job they do in the matching process!!

1 Shannon234

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Shannon Benton, and I received my Service Dog Trainer/Instructor certification from ECAD through their Train the Trainer program, in August of 2010. Since then, the people of ECAD have been absolutely wonderful helping me to start my service dog training business, including providing advise, donating stud service, and giving me pointers and tips on starting puppy training. Thank you!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My children received service dogs five years ago. Their lives have changed dramatically since Tootsie and Rebel joined our family.