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ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities) is a non-profit organization based in Torrington founded 22 years ago, whose mission is to educate and place service dogs with people with disabilities so they will have greater independence and mobility.  Since then, ECAD has educated and placed upwards of 350 Service Dogs. These highly educated Golden Retrievers and Labradors carry out ECAD’s mission.  Each ECAD dog receives 1500 hours of training and learns 89 commands, including the retrieval of dropped objects, loading the wash, opening doors, and to recognize the onset of panic attacks brought on by PTSD or stress induced anxiety. ECAD has placed canines with people who represent many disabilities, with veterans who have both visible and invisible injuries and children with Autism. To date, ECAD’s Service Dogs have helped clients representing fifty different disabilities. ECAD is currently building a new Education and Wellness Center on its original site in Winchester.

Dale Picard is the executive director and co-founder, with his wife Lu Picard, of ECAD.   Dale Picard is the executive director and co-founder, with his wife Lu Picard, of ECAD.  When Lu’s father came to live with them, her passion for educating both children and dogs to help people living with disabilities became Dale’s own. In 1995, he  began converting their home in Torrington, CT into kennels and office space, repurposing materials from the existing structures. He did this, not knowing that his hand-built space would transform into the volunteer and awareness hub that is the present-day Laura J. Niles Breeding and Volunteer Center.


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