NEADS® World Class Service Dogs Change Lives

NEADS ("NEADS Inc", formerly known as National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1976 and has trained over 1,900 Service Dog teams since its founding. NEADS is accredited by Assistance Dogs International, the internationally recognized governing body that establishes industry standards and practices.

Today, NEADS offers the widest array of Service Dog programs in the industry, while still holding true to our core mission of producing Service Dogs for individuals with disabilities. We are proud of our reputation as a pioneer, leader, and innovator.

Our dogs are highly trained to:

  • Provide independence when matched with people who are deaf or have physical disabilities, and also veterans who have PTSD
  • Promote confidence and socialization when matched with children who have autism or other developmental disabilities
  • Provide integrated therapeutic assistance when matched with caring professionals in settings like classrooms, hospitals, courthouses, mental health practices, and the ministry

Our History

  • 1976

    Students at Holliston Junior College in Massachusetts test and confirm that dogs can be trained to become "ears" for people who are deaf or have hearing loss. With seed money from the Medfield Lions Club, the original Hearing Ear Dog program is born.

  • 1987

    After training over 400 Hearing Dog teams, the program expands to include Service Dogs for people with a physical disability, and NEADS trains the very first Service Dog on the East Coast.

  • 1992

    With the expansion of our programs comes the need for more space. NEADS purchases a house and 18 acres of land in Princeton, Massachusetts, our main campus to this day.

  • 1998

    The Prison PUP Program is established, in which inmates from more than a dozen New England Correctional Centers train NEADS Service Dog puppies. This innovative program allows NEADS to train more puppies faster and more efficiently, so we can serve more clients.

  • 2005

    NEADS is the first Service Dog organization invited to Walter Reed Hospital to give an in-service about how Service Dogs can help wounded veterans.

  • 2006

    Service Dogs for Veterans is established as the first program in the country dedicated to providing Service Dogs specifically for wounded veterans.

  • 2009

    NEADS begins a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of using Service Dogs to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • 2010

    NEADS establishes the first partnership with a prison solely dedicated to the training of Service Dogs for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

  • 2015

    NEADS opens the Kathy Foreman Client House & Training Center. The building includes fully accessible living quarters and a training facility. The new construction represents an expansion of our campus and reflects the NEADS commitment to making our clients' lives more comfortable and independent.

  • 2019

    NEADS opens its state-of-the-art Canine Center. This is a cutting-edge Service Dog facility, designed to minimize stress and provide a healthy environment for our staff and dogs.

  • 2022

    NEADS opens its state-of-the-art Breeding Center. "This is a watershed moment for NEADS,” says CEO Gerry DeRoche. “We are now able to breed, raise, train, and match our own World Class Service Dogs.”is a cutting-edge Service Dog facility, designed to minimize stress and provide a healthy environment for our staff and dogs."

How We're Funded

NEADS receives very limited federal government funding and relies on the support of individuals, foundations, corporations, service organizations, bequests and workplace campaigns.

Just the Facts

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We train

  • Service Dogs for Hearing for people with hearing loss
  • Service Dogs for children and adults with a physical disability
  • Service Dogs for children with autism or other developmental disabilities
  • Service Dogs for Veterans for service men and women with disabilities or PTSD
  • Assistance Dogs who work with professionals in classroom, ministry, therapeutic, hospital, courthouse, and first responder settings
the dogs

More than 1,900 NEADS Service Dog teams matched

since our founding in 1976.

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95% of puppies are trained by prison inmates

6 prisons in MA and RI participate in the Prison PUP Program

Volunteer Weekend Puppy Raisers reinforce the tasks and commands taught by the inmate handlers and provide family time and socialization, taking puppies everywhere from busy city streets to mountain trails.

Some pups live with volunteer Full-Time Puppy Raisers, who teach good manners, basic obedience, and socialization for 12 to 16 months, until they are ready for final training by inmate handlers or NEADS trainers.

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NEADS is the oldest continuing Hearing Dog program in the country.

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Most NEADS Service Dogs start as puppies that are acquired through our own Breeding Program and from other Service/Guide Dog organizations.