NEADS World Class Service Dogs, based in Princeton, Massachusetts, is actively recruiting volunteer Full-Time Puppy Raisers and Weekend Puppy Raisers in New England (Mass., Conn., Maine, N.H., R.I., and Vt.) 

NEADS says that their World Class Service Dogs change lives every day but cannot do so without proper training. NEADS has ramped up its Full-Time Puppy Raiser program to meet the ever-growing demand for Service Dogs. The Full-Time Raiser program complements its Prison PUP Program, through which many NEADS dogs are trained.

Kendall reading Rescue and Jessica

“While we realize the commitment that we ask our Full-Time Puppy Raisers to make is a major one, we also cannot reinforce enough how meaningful this process is for the Raisers,” said NEADS CEO Gerry DeRoche. “Our volunteers have the once-in-a-lifetime experience (or hopefully more!) of preparing these amazing dogs for a career of helping others with disabilities, including those who are deaf or physically disabled, children who have autism, or veterans who have PTSD; or providing therapeutic assistance in a variety of professional settings. And the added stressors and isolation created by the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years now has made the need for our highly-trained Service Dogs more critical than ever before.”

Full-Time Puppy Raiser candidates must be willing and able to:

  • Take Service Dogs in Training into their homes and look after them for 12 to 16 months, working on critical socialization and basic obedience
  • Physically manage a young and energetic dog
  • Attend weekly training sessions with a NEADS trainer. Classes are held virtually, at the NEADS campus, and at locations mutually convenient to the Raisers and Trainers 
  • Care for the NEADS dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing a safe, healthy and loving environment (NEADS dogs can only be left alone for a maximum of two hours at a time as puppies and no longer than three to four hours as they get older) 
  • Provide daily training, socialization, and physical exercising
  • Handle the puppy and teach them crate training, house training and other appropriate behaviors in the home

Those who best qualify to become Full-Time Puppy Raisers range from young families to couples to retirees to individuals. Most importantly, the candidates need to be able to devote time, energy, and love to successfully socialize and train a NEADS Service Dog in Training. Socializing consists of following NEADS outlined field trip levels to expose the dog to everyday life in public settings, including malls, restaurants, and grocery stores to familiarize with various sounds, sights, and people. 

NEADS Service Dog in Training

You can also apply to be a Weekend Puppy Raiser as an alternative, and NEADS is in need of Weekend Raisers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Service Dogs in Training who are currently in the Prison PUP Program during the week get weekend furloughs to work on house manners, socialization, and training over the course of one year. This program is best for those who are only available on weekends.

NEADS will host two scheduled informational sessions on the Puppy Raiser program via Zoom on Saturday, February 12 at noon (sign up HERE) and Wednesday, February 16 at 6 p.m. (sign up HERE). Please register in advance using the links provided.

An interested candidate begins the process by completing an application.  If it’s a good fit, NEADS Operations Manager will be in touch to schedule a virtual orientation, which is followed by a home visit with NEADS staff prior to receiving the Service Dog in Training. NEADS provides a “Service Dog in Training” vest, as well as all food, veterinary care, and flea, tick and heartworm medications for the duration of the dog’s training, at no cost. Questions can be submitted via online form here on www.neads.org

Applications are available online here. More information on this life-changing program is in this video, produced by Endeavor Films.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.