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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

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



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.



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 Kathleen82


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 Leigh G.


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.



Rating: 5

ECAD is a wonderful organization. Everyone involved truly believes in this cause and authentically cares about the organization. The dogs receive outstanding training, love and attention by at-risk teens- who not only learn dog training skills, but they gain confidence and how to give and receive love from the dogs. In turn these dogs one day help those with physical or emotional issues... After partnering and training, the dog recipients are able to achieve greater independence as they go out into the world with a new four legged best friend. This is an amazing organization with every nuance and detail attended to in the most sensitive and compassionate manner. A win-win for all those involved!

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

It takes a lot of work, unlimited patience, to teach dogs to assist humans, in a way that benefits both. This group does it with kindness, and commitment.

Teach a Dog to Heel, They Heal.


Review from Guidestar