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June 14th NEADS Graduation to Feature Five RIDOC-Trained Pups

Five Rhode Department of Corrections-trained pups will be among the canine graduates at the Summer 2009 NEADS graduation at Hanscom Air Force Base’s Minuteman Club on Sunday, June 14th, beginning at 2 p.m. Social dog JJ, who will be paired with 7-year-old Connor Lamoureux of Boylston, Mass.; Walker Dog Buddy, who will be paired with Anita Illinger, a busy mother of two from Waltham, Mass.; Balance/Walker Dog Rugby, who will be paired with combat veteran Nathan Ruby of Temple, Tex., who needs help with balance and hearing loss; and Service Dog Raider, who will assist human partner Gretchen Korman of Branford, Conn., with balance and socialization, were all trained at the RIDOC’s John J. Moran Medium Security Facility. Specialty Dog Tasha, who is paired with Dorothy Banges who is both deaf and physically disabled and lives in Brattleboro, Vt., was trained at the RIDOC’s Donald Price Medium Security Facility.

The NEADS Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans Prison Pup Partnership Program at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) provides life-changing results in the lives of the inmates who train the pups and the disabled clients who eventually receive them. Currently, there are eight dogs in training at the Moran Facility and four at the Price facility with plans for expansion in the near future.

Nothing drives the success of the NEADS Program home more powerfully than the bi-annual NEADS graduation ceremonies held in October and June of each year. This is the first NEADS graduation to be held at Hanscom Air Force Base. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. NEADS is currently taking names for a waiting list.

NEADS (Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans), headquartered in Princeton, Mass., is a non-profit organization established in 1976 to train and provide rescued dogs and donated puppies to assist people who are deaf or physically disabled in leading more independent lives at work, at home and at school. These assistance dogs become an extension of their owners and bring security, freedom, independence and relief from social isolation to their human partners.

NEADS is the oldest continuing hearing dog program in the country and the only program of its kind in New England, as well as one of the country's largest. NEADS has trained well over 1000 assistance dog teams from all states. Among the types of dogs trained are: hearing, service, social, specialty, service dogs for the classroom, ministry, therapy and walker dogs.

NEADS was recently featured in the New York Times and in the Boston Herald, for its newest program, the Canines for Combat Veterans Program. Several RIDOC-trained pups have been paired with service men and women whose injuries left them with special needs.

For further information, visit the organization’s website at Members of the press interested in covering the graduation may contact Tracey Zeckhausen at (401) 462-2609 or via e-mail at

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