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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

106 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

Previous Stories
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.

6

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.

3

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.

4 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.

3

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.

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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.

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.

1

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.

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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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.

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.

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.