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2014 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

29 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

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

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 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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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.

Previous Stories
2

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.

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

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!!!

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.

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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family has been volunteering at ECAD for 5 years. We are home handlers and take service dogs home on weekends to reinforce what they are taught in school. We have seen firsthand how this program has impacted the lives of many. For one, these service dogs better the lives of the clients they eventually serve. Whether the service dogs goes to an individual with a physical or emotional handicap, the dog is taught and trained to meet the needs of each specific individual. Besides helping their clients with day-to-day tasks they provide unconditional love and emotional support.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ECAD is bar none the most amazing charity I have ever volunteered for.
The Picards founded this organization as a way to bring Unconditional Love to the people that need it most; Children at risk who society has basically given up on and people of all types with various disabilities.
By having the Children at Risk train and develop a relationship with the service dogs, they are getting their self-esteem back and can feel like they have a purpose. The service dogs that are trained by these children give so much back to needy people with emotional, physical and mental disabilities- I have never encountered a more dedicated, loving and beautiful cause- being involved with ECAD has has changed my life as it is like a beautiful circle of Unconditional Love and Service.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time as a weekend respite provider for the dogs in training was an amazing experience..I learned so much from my canine guests and the experience gave me the confidence and skill to rescue a dog in need of a home.
This organization cares deeply about its youth tainers as well as the canines.As a result of the dedication and expertise of the professionals in this organization canines and their partners are well suited and successful.
The contributions made by these dogs to the lives of all they encounter is difficult to measure but invaluable and life changing.
It is a pleasure to have played a small role in this much needed organization,They provide a wonderful service.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the honor of working with ECAD since its inception. They provide an amazing service not only to the ultimate clients who receive the fully trained dogs but to the boys who train the dogs at The Children's Village. I'm a staff member at CV but also a "mom" to one of the breeder dogs who has provided two litters of puppies for the program. This program is a source of awe-inspiring results and is a win-win for everyone concerned.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ECAD is a wonderful organization. Not only do they train assistance dogs for people with disabilities, for autistic children and for therapy centers and hospitals, but they use boys at Children's Village, a residential treatment center and school for boys, to do the training. Clients who receive the dogs are thus helped and the boys have the pride of seeing what their disciplined work over 18 months or more can achieve. We have worked especially with two dogs: Sierra, who is now living with and serving a 7 year old boy with autism, and Pumpkin, who is about to go to a hospital center in Florida. With Pumpkin, especially, we saw the results of ECAD's work. he went from being an opportunistic, difficult pup to a mature dog responding to many commands and giving great help.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with ECAD for several rewarding years now. I view the program as a WIN-WIN-WIN. Service dogs are trained by at-risk youth (first WIN -- you should see the kids bond with these dogs, and from their experience learn patience and trust). Then the dogs are paired with persons with physical challenges (second WIN -- whether it is providing independence to an autistic child (and parents!) or much-needed physical and/or emotional support for a wounded veteran, the service dog adds quality of life for a recipient. Third WIN: the volunteer! Being a weekend handler allows me to have a trained, loving dog at my convenience. It is very rewarding, to say nothing of excellent exercise!

Imagine being the kid in the wheelchair, that has always felt like an outsider at school. Now, imagine being that same kid in the wheelchair at school -- but with a dog! The other kids now envy you and crowd around. You are no longer the kid with the disability -- you are the kid who GETS to have a dog. Big difference!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I first herd about ECAD I couldn't wait to sign up.Before I signed up though, my parents wanted to see if I could volunteer at a more local facility.When that failed, my parents said I could finally fill the application and go with my friend to ECAD see what they do.When that day finally arrived, it was Sunday afternoon; I was wearing my pink polo shirt ( to look presentable), and got in my friend's car.We were off!When we arrived it wasn't exactly what I thought it would look like, but it was fine with me!My friend introduced me to everyone there, then soon I got the nickname, Pinky; (lol :) because of my shirt )! After a few weeks of going with my friend I was finally accepted into ECAD! I was then assigned a dog to work with and foster at my house (optional). He was a great dane lab mix named Valor. He was the best dog in the world! He was all black and literally my shadow (lol :D )! I fostered Valor for many weekends, he was always there for me, and was always a very good boy! Later my instructor told me he was soon moving on to the New York campus, I was sad that Valor was leaving, but happy that he was one step closer to becoming a service dog (and I was still able to see him sometimes when he would come back to the Connecticut campus). After Valor moved on to the New York campus; I wasn't particularly assigned to another dog I just got any dog that was there to foster and train. Later I went to Valor's graduation and saw him become an official service dog. To this day I still think of him often. I still do go to ECAD and foster and train dogs, and YES they still do call me Pinky at times, but it doesn't bother me.ECAD has changed me in many ways.Before I came to ECAD I wasn't patient, but now that I work with the dogs I have to be patient, I also feel more mellow and calm when I am around other dogs and people (Valor taught me that). Each dog has many purposes in life, taking a dog home to foster every once in a while, will teach me more lessons to learn about life,love, and lessons. I love coming to ECAD and always look forward to coming each week. I hope that someday I will help impact any people like ECAD has; I know it has for me, my family, friends, and the people whom are gaining independence.ECAD will impact your life too, if you give it a chance, and help them raise money, to raise more puppies, which will someday turn into service dogs that will help people in many ways.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We began volunteering with ECAD last year as weekend home handlers. While having an incredibly smart, adorable dog in our home every weekend has brought us much joy, it was a recent "graduation" ceremony that truly demonstarted the power of this organization. To see the impact that these dogs have had on so many lives was awe inspiring. From the clients whose lives will be changed, to the home handlers whose weekends are made brighter, to the children trainees whose lives are enriched with responsibility, trust, and unconditional love, the community impact that ECAD delivers is nothing short of exceptional. Thank you, ECAD, for everything you do!

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I work for Children's Village, which collaborates with ECAD. ECAD instructors train at-risk adolescents at our residential school to train assistance dogs for the physically handicapped. I have seen first-hand the transformation of our young men who work in this program. Not only do they develop a skill, but they learn patience, gain self-confidence, and experience the joy of helping someone less fortunate. Many Children's Village staff volunteer in this program, taking dogs home on the weekends to socialize them. I have been a volunteer for three years taking care of Ruthie, who is a breeder in the program and "works" in the pet therapy program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got invovled with ECAD as a compromise to my daughter who wanted a dog to love. ECAD provided that, but also allowed her to feel the joy of giving back to others who ultimately get the dogs we help train. The staff is committed, knowledgable and responsive. They also give back to the community by educating the public on these critical programs.

Review from Guidestar