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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

48 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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

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.

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 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

Client Served

Rating: 5

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

Client Served

Rating: 4

As i was at ECAD with my son Anthony i WAS amazed at watching

how the ECAd family was able to bring back and give a full and HAPPY

life to a person by way of their new dog friend and companion.

these incredibly trained dogs seem to light the world once again for

all who come in contact with them. Doors have opened again for my son and more are opening, where as before they were closed.The ECAD family have a special give of giving and caring and patience, i feel they are all truly blessed with a gift and i feel the best part of this gift is the giving part. These people have turned around the lives of many. I would truly feel special to be a part of this --I would truly feel special if i could help to make others happy for no one should feel sad,
lonely, or left out and i see that ECAD has changed this and made people whole again. ECAD has does and continues to MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY as a new life comes to them with their SERVICE DOG. eVERYONE involved has a touch of magic and are truly Blessed and i am glad i got to experience it.

Review from Guidestar

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am writing on behalf of Martin Luther King, Jr., High School in the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School District. We are currently in our second year of the ECAD Program which involves students in grades nine through twelve. This program has helped our students learn key skills in the area of communication and leadership.

In closing, I like to say how sincerely thankful I am to have the ECAD Program at our high school.

Paul Tobin
Principal

Review from Guidestar

1 steffer

Client Served

Rating: 5

We received a service dog for our son in March 2010. Baker has been the best thing that has happened to us since our son and his twin brother were diagnosed with autism. Baker has given our son confidence, comfort and freedom. The staff at ECAD were phenomenal in training us for 15 days. They listened to us with compassion. I looked at lots of other organizations and chose ECAD because of their compassion and commitment to their dogs as well as the people who are given a service dog.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

ECAD has been training student/residents at our facility for troubled teens. The students take great pride in their accomplishments of teaching dogs to to help those even less fortunate than them. Developing this sense of pride and mastery goes a long way to help our students become service providers not just service recipients.
This experience becomes a foundation and anchor for many teenagers who have not had these personal growth experiences.
It is always better to build on one's strengths than to continuously identify their shortcomings and the action of ECAD is the perfect model for our adolescents.

Review from Guidestar

Doug M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We acquired a beautiful service dog from ECAD in New York for our son, Nathaniel, in 2008 and it has been the best thing we've ever done for him. Nathan, now 11, suffers from mitochondrial disease, a life-threatening illness that robs the body of its ability to create adequate energy from food. The result is a general deficiency in nearly every system in the body-muscular, respiratory, immune, digestive, etc.

Nathan's beautiful golder retriever, Chief, from ECAD helps Nathan on a daily basis with the everyday functions most people take for granted. He helps Nathan dress by "bracing" for him so Nathan can have something to lean against and maintain balance. He picks up clothes and toys off the floor and brings them to Nathan. He helps hold Nathan's legs up to get his leg braces and shoes on. He alerts my wife and me at night if Nathan's breathing is irregular or if he's kinked his O2 tube. Above all, though, Chief is a faithful sentinel and friend at all hours, day or night. Hospital procedures are more bearable when a warm fur coat and cold nose are close at hand to give a nudge of encouragement as only a faithful dog can do.

There is a reason our family decided to drive all the way to New York from Michigan to get a service dog, and that reason is ECAD. The dogs' breeding lines are strictly maintained and the training is thorough and unparalleled. We sometimes see so-called service dogs from other organizations in our area when we're in public and they behave so poorly that we're quickly reminded again why we choose to go to ECAD for help.

I recommend them unreservedly and hope they will continue their success for generations to come.

Review from Guidestar

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

We have an autistic son who is now 6 years old. We received our service dog in 2009.My wife and I found ECAD while researching service dogs on the internet and applied. After spending two weeks of extensive training with several dogs, we were paired with an older (3 yo) female because our son was the youngest to ever receive a service dog for autism.

Our search turned up several trainers with good credentials much closer to our home in Alabama. However, they would not place a dog with a child younger than 5. In our opinion, this was simply two years of wasted time and opportunity for improvement. Upon contacting ECAD, Lu, the trainer, shared our view and allowed us to interview for placement. It is this vision which sets this organization apart from the rest. And when you find out that they incorporate disadvantaged youths in the majority of their training process, the decision to choose ECAD is an easy one. Our dog, Sonic Boom, is now as much a member of our family as our children and as invaluable resource for our autistic son. She willingly accepts the burden of caring for our son in public situation, and removes most of our safety concerns. We continue to obtain the required yearly certifications from the ECAD staff.

I understand that they are currently creating a new "breed" of service dog with size, strength, and intelligence to place with disabled veterans returning from the middle east. This is just another example of how this incredible organization looks toward the future.

Review from Guidestar

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

i am a combat oef veteran with physical and invisible wounds from my deployment to afghanistan. my army wounded warrior case manager took me for an interview after my application was received. the personal one on one provide to me and the interaction with 3 various types of service dogs is amazing. one can feel Lu and Barbara's sincerity and care they give of their selves for this wonderful organization.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Rebel helped me so that I didn't have to be on monitors all the time. I love Rebel very much. Miss Lu is nice.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

East Coast Assistance Dogs is a very unique organization. They help people with physical disabilities as well as developmental disabilities. They also provide dogs for our disabled service men and woman who have both physical and psychological disabilities from having served our country in a war. I have balance issues and have frequent falls. I know the emotional isolation of having a disability and look forward to the friendship of a service dog. I am also the mother of an adult daughter with autism. Service dogs provide an invaluable service to autistic individuals by helping them to use language skills and connect to others socially. I am so glad that dogs are now available to help autistic children. ECAD is helping so many people with disabilities achieve a better life!

4 luis-montalvan

Client Served

Rating: 5

East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD) helped to provide me with the independence that I needed after being wounded and injured during the course of 17 years of military service, including two combat tours in Iraq. ECAD partnered me with Tuesday -- a highly-trained and loving golden retriever -- who helps me day and night. Over the past two years, Tuesday has enabled me to complete a graduate degree at Columbia University and continue on with my studies toward a PhD. Tuesday accompanies me everywhere: to the VA Hospital, around town and across the country. His faithful service and happy disposition is helping me to accomplish my goals and dreams. I am forever grateful to ECAD, Lu and Dale Picard and all the tremendous staff who continue to offer assistance and support -- but most of all, friendship.