Coronavirus and COVID-19 Planning at NEADS

MARCH 25, 2020

Last week, we sent an update describing how NEADS is adapting to these unprecedented times, thanks in large part to the help of many volunteers. In the space of a few hours, we heard from many more of you who wanted to know how you could help, too.

We certainly understand that these days it’s a big ask, but one of the most important ways you can show your support is by donating. Please consider making a one-time donation, joining as a monthly sustainer, or supporting one of our client’s fundraising efforts.

You can also purchase items in the NEADS Shop, and all proceeds will go to support our programs. When you online shop at Amazon, start at AmazonSmile and select NEADS as your charity.

We would love to have you join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and share our stories with friends and family. We regularly post updates as well as super-cute puppies – a welcome escape we all can enjoy!

Like many organizations, NEADS is doing what we can to keep moving forward. First and foremost, I want to assure you that our dogs continue to be safe, healthy, and well cared for. Just yesterday we made a delivery of dog food to the prisons, where many of our dogs are staying with their inmate handlers 7 days a week.

Thank you again for your passion and your support of NEADS.

Gerry DeRoche
CEO, NEADS World Class Service Dogs

MARCH 20, 2020

The Coronavirus outbreak has forced NEADS to make many changes, very quickly. These changes would not be possible without the support of the entire NEADS community. I’d like to share just some of what went on this past week.

Over the weekend, we decided it was best to move dogs off our campus and have most of our staff work remotely. Fortunately, at the time the Department of Correction imposed their restrictions on movement in and out of prison, many of our dogs in training were with their inmate handlers and were able to stay in prison. But we still needed to place 4 puppies from the Early Learning Center and 10 dogs from the Canine Center in homes for the foreseeable future. When we put out a call to our Weekend Puppy Raisers, Weekend Puppy Sitters, and campus volunteers to see if any were willing to take these dogs home, we were overwhelmed by the response. Not only were all remaining dogs able to go home with volunteers, but we have other volunteers ready and waiting should they be needed.

The litter of puppies we are hosting from another organization was the last piece of the puzzle, as we couldn’t place a litter of puppies with a volunteer who had no experience raising puppies. Kate Albertini, our Breeding & Puppy Development Coordinator, offered to move the litter to her house, where she can give the puppies the care they need.

It’s times like these when I truly appreciate our amazing community of supporters, volunteers, and staff who are dedicated to our mission and ready to help out in any way they can. We’ll have more stories to share over the coming weeks and hope they will brighten your day.

When this is over, we look forward to greeting you again on campus, seeing you at graduation, and enjoying your company at our events.

May you and your family stay well,

Gerry DeRoche
CEO, NEADS World Class Service Dogs

MARCH 16, 2020

NEADS continues to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 and follow the information available from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Health. In response to the most recent information available, NEADS is taking the following precautions to limit the effects of COVID-19 on our operations.

  • NEADS Campus & Staff: Our goal is to keep our volunteers and staff safe and healthy by decreasing the risk of exposure to Coronavirus. This includes minimizing dog and people movement to and from campus.We are scheduling essential staff on campus to ensure our dogs are appropriately cared for, but most NEADS staff members will be working remotely. We will make every effort to answer phone calls and emails in a timely manner and appreciate your patience as we adjust to these scheduling changes. These measures will be in place until April 7. At that point, NEADS will reassess the situation.Staff members will be heeding advice to limit activities outside the home, avoid crowds, and, when outside, practice social distancing (keeping a 6’ distance between you and everyone else).In addition, all new client training classes have been postponed through the end of April, and we will continue to monitor the situation as we look to schedule future classes. We will continue to interview new client applicants; however, interviews will be conducted via Skype.
  • NEADS Volunteers: All campus volunteering is cancelled until at least April 7.
  • Prison PUP Program: NEADS has been working with the Department of Correction (DOC) on coronavirus preparedness and its implications for the NEADS program. Late last week, the DOC made the decision to freeze all dog movement in and out of prison facilities. In most cases, this means that our dogs in training will remain in prison with their inmate handlers. Others are with Puppy Raisers or are being hosted by other volunteers.
  • NEADS Shop: Although there is no known case of COVID-19 at NEADS, the retail shop location at NEADS in Princeton, MA will be closed as a precaution at least until March 31. Customers can still support NEADS by making purchases online. Orders will be mailed out once a week. Unfortunately, in-store pick-up will not be an option.

Spring Graduation Update

Spring Graduation, scheduled for April 26, 2020, has been cancelled. We will have more information in the coming days about how we will celebrate our Spring graduates.

Coronavirus and Dogs

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), there is no evidence, at this time, that companion animals can spread COVID-19. As an extra precaution, though, we recommend you limit the handling of your dog by others. At this time, there is also no evidence that any dog has become ill with the virus.


As noted in every publication about the virus, a major key to prevention is to wash your hands continually and to not touch your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.

Throughout this global crisis, NEADS will continue to keep our puppies and dogs safe, fed, and well cared for. We appreciate your support in helping us meet our immediate needs and fulfilling our mission.

For NEADS Clients

March 13, 2020

NEADS recommends that you have a plan in case you become infected by the virus and cannot care for your dog. This plan could include having a trusted friend or relative care for your dog or boarding your dog at a local kennel; having enough dog food and medication on hand for at least two weeks; and knowing the emergency veterinary hospitals that are open in your area in case of an emergency.

March 11, 2020

With the concerns surrounding COVID-19 (the coronavirus), NEADS wanted to reach out with the following information. For this post, we have sought guidance from Dr. Christine Pelletier (DVM), the NEADS Medical Director.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), there is no evidence, at this time, that companion animals can spread COVID-19. At this time, there is also no evidence that any dog has become ill with the virus.

Prevention: As noted in every publication about the virus, a major key to prevention is to wash your hands continually and to not touch your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.

For NEADS Clients

For owners of Service Dogs and Assistance Dogs, please be sure that anyone who is petting your dog (with your permission) wash their hands before and after. If using a hand sanitizer, it should have 60% alcohol content.

Assistance Dog Owners should not let your clients go face to face with the dog. And, as noted earlier, your clients should wash their hands before and after petting your Assistance Dog.

If you or a member of your household become ill with this or another virus, please use the same good hygiene with your Service Dog as you would with any member of your household:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Wear a mask
  • Minimize contact with the dog’s face or mouth (i.e., kisses).

If your employer asks you to not bring your dog into work please contact your NEADS trainer for guidance on care that your dog may need if home for extended periods of the day.

As noted in the beginning, this is our guidance given the current information provided by the CDC, the AVMA and WOAH. We are continually monitoring developments about the virus and will provide further information as needed.

NEADS in the Time of Coronavirus

Checking in on Frannie’s Litter – Week 3

Checking in on Frannie’s litter, week 3.

NEADS Plans Special Delivery for Patients at Franciscan Children’s Hospital

To celebrate the release of our new coloring and activity book, Let’s Go with NEADS Service Dogs Arnie and Zara, NEADS will be donating 1 copy for every book purchased to Franciscan Children’s Hospital (up to 200 copies). Written and designed by our own Lori Barrett, NEADS Creative Media Specialist, this fun and educational “A to Z” activity/coloring book is centered around words and phrases related to Service Dogs…

Behind the Scenes: Keeping the Dogs Fed

Twice a month, NEADS staff delivers dog food for our pups in prison, typically bringing a 2-week supply at a time. We have dogs in seven prisons, and they each receive anywhere from 5 bags to 15, depending on the program. That’s a lot of dog food – approximately 80 bags per month.

My Dining Room is Now a Nursery

In early March, Nursery staff welcomed Frannie, a pregnant brood* from Guiding Eyes to campus and whelped** her litter. They expected the next 8 weeks to unfold as they typically do with any of our litters…