A decade of advancing working dogs for the greater good

In September 2022, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center (WDC) celebrated its 10th anniversary at Pennovation Works. Cynthia Otto, DVM, PhD, founder and executive director of WDC, was inspired to create the center after she cared for the working dogs deployed in a search for survivors at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks. Today, WDC aims to improve the breeding, training, care, and effectiveness of working dogs.

In the past ten years, WDC has graduated 131 dogs into careers in search and rescue, law enforcement, medical detection, and more, with a 94% success rate in placing its puppies in “jobs.” The Center has also impacted people throughout the community over the years, including middle school students who have learned what it means to be a canine handler, foster families who have opened their homes to puppies in training, police departments who have received training or purchased dogs to augment their capacity, and scientists who have investigated the dogs’ abilities. 

During the ten year celebration, Otto outlined some of the goals that she and her ambitious staff have for the WDC. Looking forward, the Center aims to acquire a dedicated training space for law enforcement canine training, Otto said: “ideally in West Philadelphia, where we can partner with local leaders to be a positive impact for the community, including engaging youth at risk in positive programming.”

Read the Penn Today article here.

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