Assistance Dog Organization Expands

NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans opens new Illinois office to meet demand.

Posted: March 4, 2009, 5 a.m. EST

A new Illinois office for NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans has been established to meet a growing need in the community, according to the nonprofit organization that trains and provides assistance dogs.

The organization was formed in 1976 to train and provide rescued dogs and donated puppies to help people who are deaf or have a physical disability in leading more independent lives at work, at home, and at school. Nearly 100 percent of Hearing Dogs are rescued from animal shelters throughout New England and the United States.

The Illinois office is the 22nd state office opened by NEADS. Spokesman John Moon said there are two main reasons for a higher demand in assistance dogs.

Sadly, he said, there’s a growing population of autistic children. The organization provides Halter (Autism) Dogs, who are trained to stop children from putting themselves in danger.

In addition, he said there’s also an increase in veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who are in different disabled states and in need of assistance. NEADS runs the specialized Canines for Wounded Veterans program, which provides assistance dogs who are constant companions.

These dogs can alert to sound for those with hearing loss, retrieve and carry objects, open doors, help with balance difficulties, pull on socks and shoes, and provide a bridge back to society. In addition, the canines help relieve stress and reduce the sense of vulnerability wounded veterans may experience as a result of their injuries.

“There seems to be more of a need for these service dogs,” Moon said.

Although the main training facility is in Massachusetts, the organization places service dogs with clients throughout the United States. The breeds most commonly raised as service dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, and smooth Collies.


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Stephanie   Fitchburg, MA

8/10/2009 6:21:01 AM

Beth, I hope that you read this: EVERY disabled human being, whether a child or an adult, should be allowed to have an assistance dog. Do you have any idea what it is like to have an autistic child? You live in constant fear that your child will disappear at a moments notice. I wish people like you could see how liberating it is to have the hope of going out into the public and know that your child is secure. Adults with the cognitive ability to understand can see that children are imprisoned by autism and this is one gift we can give to them and their families.

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Beth   Boston, MA

3/5/2009 12:18:46 PM

Historically there haven't been enough service dogs to meet the demand as it is. I say let the kids with autism wait until they're older, a dog shouldn't be responsibile for a child and that means less trained dogs for the adults who have been waiting for years. Even Guide Dog schools won't normally place a dog with a child under 16.

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H   Shutesbury, MA

3/4/2009 5:20:11 AM

I am raising a NEADS Service Dog!

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sally   las vegas, NV

3/4/2009 3:34:53 AM

Cool info.

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