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Penn Vet Working Dog Center Team

About Us

Our Mission

Serving through canine research, education, and training.

Our Goals

  • To serve as a consortium to unite programs that employ detection dogs to benefit society throughout the US and around the world.
  • To collect and analyze genetic, behavioral and physical data; and integrates the latest scientific information in order to optimize the success and well-being of detection dogs.
  • To prepare for future demands and facilitate research by developing a detection dog breeding/training program that will implement, test, and disseminate the knowledge gained.

Meet Our Team

What makes the Penn Vet Working Dog Center a very special place is our team – a unique combination of people with a broad range of expertise. Get to know our core team. Come visit the Center and get a sense of the place.


Cindy Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVEC, DACVSMR, CCRT

  • Executive DirectorDr Cindy Otto, Penn Vet Working Dog Center
  • cmotto@upenn.edu
  • Dr. Otto, a member of the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 from 1994 to 2010, began monitoring the health and behavior of Urban Search and Rescue dogs in October of 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.
  • This work inspired her to establish the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. She has published over 60 articles in peer reviewed journals, authored over 10 book chapters and lectured nationally and internationally on Emergency Medicine, Disaster Medicine and Working Dogs.
  • Her research program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery, Morris Animal Foundation and other foundations.
  • She has also been involved in disaster medicine as a member of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team – 2 since 1999. Dr. Otto is board-certified in both veterinary emergency and critical care and veterinary sports medicine.
  • She is a tenured associate professor of Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine and was named Pennsylvania’s 2002 “Veterinarian of the Year” and received an Alumni Recognition Award in 2006 and the OSU Distinguished Alumus Award in 2008 from the Ohio State University.
  • She is involved in dog sports (flyball, agility, and tricks), and also provides pet therapy in the Philadelphia area, with her rescued Bichon mix, Dolce.
  • Advisory Positions
  • USAR Veterinary Group – 2007 - present
  • Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team Board 2010-present
  • US Special Operations Command Committee on Canine Tactical-Combat Casualty Care 2010 - 2012
  • Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthoganol Detector Guidelines 2011-2014
  • NIST Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) Dogs and Sensors Subgroup 2014-
  • Advisory Committee for The Center for Animal and Human Relationships (CENTAUR) VA-MD RegionalCollege of Veterinary Medicine 2012-present
  • Search Dog Foundation Canine Veterinary Working Group 2012-present
  • Hand2Paw – Board member 2012-present

Vicki Berkowitz

  • Associate DirectorVickiEloise
  • vickibe@upenn.edu
  • Vicki is a graduate of The George Washington University with a BA in Communications.  After graduation, she began her career in the brokerage industry earning her Series 7 & Series 8 licenses and a position working with branch offices across the Midwest to enhance their operations efficiency and overall industry compliance. 
  • After six years in the industry, Vicki pursued an opportunity experience life in another culture and spent a year teaching English to college professors in Ecuador, South America. After returning to the United States, Vicki joined a retained search firm in Albany, NY specializing in building executive and leadership teams for high-tech start-up companies.
  • Vicki spent 11 years in various roles with increasing responsibility at Muscular Dystrophy Association. With the last seven years as a leader on Regional, Divisional and National teams, Vicki not only managed relationships with National sponsors and events, but guided District teams through management of budgets, strategic business plans, and staff development.
  • Vicki enjoys hiking with her Leonberger, Eloise, who is not only a registered therapy dog but also a decorated “Dock Dog” competitor.

Annemarie DeAngelo, MAS

  • Training DirectorADeAngelo, Rebelion-Left, Waya-Right
  • adeang@upenn.edu
  • Major Annemarie DeAngelo retired from the New Jersey State Police in January of 2012, concluding a distinguished thirty-one year career.
  • She was assigned to patrol, canine, investigation and administration before rising to the command staff positions of Executive Officer in the Homeland Security Branch and Field Operations “Troop C” Commanding Officer.
  • Annemarie was the founder and architect of the New Jersey State Police Canine Unit. She began training dogs for obedience and personal protection under the guidance of a military canine trainer in 1980. That experience steered her law enforcement career and she became the first NJSP narcotic dog (Buddy) handler.
  • For the next 13 years she served in the Canine Unit as a handler, trainer, and ultimately unit leader. She earned trainer certifications from both the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the United States Police Canine Association. She is an active canine trial judge and advocate for law enforcement and civilian canine organizations.
  • Annemarie and her canine partner “Buster” were awarded the National Detector Dog “Case of the Year” for an investigation and scent detection that led to the seizure of 1,200 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a tractor trailer.
  • She was also the recipient of the prestigious “Gene Catre Memorial Award” presented by The College of New Jersey Criminal Justice Department for career contributions to the law enforcement community.
  • Annemarie earned her Masters of Administrative Science degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University where she also earned a graduate certification in School Security and Safety Administration. 

Bess J. Pierce, DVM, DABVP, DACVIM, DACVSMR

  • Clinical ConsultantBess Pierce, DVM, Working Dog Center
  • Dr. Pierce has been involved with planning, opening and developing programs at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center since 2009 and now serves as the clinical consultant, in conjunction with her full time faculty position as Associate Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine and Canine Sports Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Tennessee.
  • Dr. (Colonel) Pierce also serves in the US Army Veterinary Corps, where her passion for working dogs began with her first assignment in 1992. Since that time she has been honored to serve working dogs, soldiers and family members around the world in both the active duty and reserve components.
  • Dr. Pierce is board-certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.  Her primary research interests are in canine sports medicine and rehabilitation, canine conditioning and injury prevention, and three dimensional motion capture and modeling. She has received five US Army Meritorious Service Medals, the Order of Military Medical Merit, and the 2015 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award given by the American Veterinary Medical Association for achievements in the field of human animal bond service, research and education.
  • In her free time, Dr. Pierce enjoys spending time with her veterinarian husband and two dogs traveling, hiking and kayaking.

Pat Kaynaroglu

  • Training ManagerPat Kaynaroglu, Working Dog Center
  • pkay@upenn.edu
  • Pat graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a B.A. in Special Education. She began training search and rescue dogs after discovering them with one of her special needs students.
  • She has partnered with working dogs in her special education classrooms ever since and received the Teacher of the Year award from the Kids in Need Foundation in 2010 for the Cody Project, which teaches middle and high school students the skills necessary to train search and rescue canines.
  • Pat has been a search and rescue handler since 1992. She has participated in over 400 search and rescue missions as a handler, as an Incident Commander, and as Planning & Operations Coordinator with a specialty in managing K9 operations. She has certified three Disaster Search Canines, three Human Remains Detection & Water Search canines, and four Wilderness Search Canines.
  • Pat is currently a Canine Search Specialist with Pennsylvania Task Force 1 and is a national Instructor and Evaluator with FEMA for live-find and HRD.  She served with Lake County Search and Rescue in Colorado from 2002- 2012 and currently serves with the Lambertville-New Hope Ambulance & Rescue Squad K9 Unit with her live find canine Rip and HRD canine Pacy.
  • Pat and her husband Hakan, who is also a FEMA Canine Search Specialist, founded Emergency Response K9 in 2000 and helped establish the Disaster Search Dog Program in Turkey. They conduct search dog trainings, evaluations, and seminars as well as raise funds to support the purchase of working dogs. Pat and Hakan love the outdoors, skiing in Colorado, and spending time with their family.

Donna Magness

  • TrainerDonna Magness, PV Working Dog Center
  • dmagness@upenn.edu
  • Donna has been an avid horse person since the age of 5. Her love of horses led her to own and operate an equestrian tack shop, Gentry Tack & Apparel, Inc. for 15 years and to volunteer at Thorncroft Equestrian Center.
  • Donna’s interests broadened to include dog training when she began taking Maddie, her Bouvier des Flandres, to agility classes after Maddie showed interest in agility equipment during an obedience class. Maddie and Donna now compete in AKC agility at the Masters Level.
  • Donna began volunteering at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center as soon as it opened. Her contributions as a volunteer prompted the Center to hire her as a trainer six months after she began volunteering.
  • Donna grew up with horses, basset hounds, and ducks, which encouraged her love of animals. She rescued two greyhounds, who have since passed on, before she got Maddie and now, in addition to Maddie, owns 17 chickens; two English Bulldogs, named Bonnie and Clyde; and fosters the Center’s very own yellow Labrador retriever, Jake.

Danielle Berger

  • TrainerDanielle Berger, PV Working Dog Center
  • danieb@upenn.edu
  • Danielle has been involved in the animal sciences and animal rescue world since she was a child. She worked part time as a domestic animal and wildlife veterinary technician while raising her two sons in South Jersey.
  • Her dog training career began when her brother, a medic with US Army, and his unit rescued a puppy from the streets of Iraq in late 2007. She has since graduated with honors from the Animal Behavior College Dog Training Program, completed an intern/externship with the behavior team at Pennsylvania SPCA, trained in and taught advanced off leash obedience in group classes, assisted in training service dogs for veterans with PTSD, and owned and operated her own dog training business.
  • Danielle began as a WDC volunteer in the Spring of 2014 and quickly realized that she was extremely interested in the practices, research, and scent detection training here at Working Dog Center. She became involved in all aspects of training, behavior, and research and participated in a five-day Wilderness Search and Rescue seminar with WDC K9 Logan (donated by Watcher Engle Kennels) and worked part-time as a research technician during the summer of 2014.
  • She joined our training team as a full time trainer in May 2015 and enjoys being a back- up foster for our WDC dogs.
  • When not at the WDC, Danielle can be found enjoying activities involving the great outdoors with her family, her own pet dogs as well as our WDC pups.

Bridget Stewart

  • TrainerBridget Stewart-Working Dog Center
  • stebri@upenn.edu
  • Bridget’s interest in canine behavior started at a young age. She began working dogs in 4H with her Rhodesian Ridgeback and as a puppy raiser for The Seeing Eye.
  • Through these experiences she learned about puppy development and learning curves. Throughout college she worked at a local animal shelter as a trainer and behavior evaluator. She worked with the shelter dogs teaching obedience, loose leash walking, and kennel manners. She also worked with staff and volunteers teaching positive training methods and canine behavior and body language. This helped the shelter team facilitate better matches with potential owners which led to more successful adoptions.
  • Bridget attended Delaware Valley University and graduated with a Small Animal Science degree with a focus in animal behavior. The school provided a hands on learning program and she was able to successfully train a variety of animals from chickens to horses.
  • After graduating, she began interning at the Working Dog Center where she learned about drive, scent work, and the training of working dogs. Now as one of our full time trainers Bridget says she is continuing to learn and improve her skills every day and that she “absolutely loves her job!”

Bob Dougherty

  • Law Enforcement Canine CoordinatorBob Dougherty, Working Dog Center
  • rodou@upenn.edu
  • Bob Dougherty has been a police officer since 1984, most of which have been dedicated to working and training police working dogs with the Cheltenham Township Police Department in Montgomery County, Pa.
  • Bob and his first partner graduated from the Philadelphia Police K9 Academy in 1988. A long-time member of the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA), Bob has certified all of his partners in numerous police dog trials and certifications to include one USPCA National Police Dog 1 (PD1) field trial.
  • Bob is certified by the USPCA as a regional police dog trainer and judge for patrol, and scent detection, and has attended numerous training seminars to include several decoy seminars over the years to learn how to “help” both dogs and handlers be their best.
  • Open to all types of training styles and philosophies for the betterment of training police dogs, as well being open to training styles from various police, sport and civilian dog trainers, Bob’s personal moral code is to never be cruel in the training of dogs in general, and specifically in training police working dogs.
  • Bob’s approach is one that first looks at each dog as individualistic, focuses on establishing a solid foundation of training those basic skills necessary for young dog’s to be successful, and to remove the conflict which can occur between a dog and handler due to harsh and often premature physical corrections. Bob believes that trainers need to be actively involved with training dogs, and not just sitting back evaluating from afar.

Judi Berke

  • Volunteer & Outreach CoordinatorJudi Berke, Penn Vet Working Dog Center
  • berkej@upenn.edu
  • Judi Berke is a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic and graduate of Sherman Chiropratic College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, specializing in the NUCCA technique.
  • Judi had 25 years of experience running a successful chiropractic practice in Glenside, PA. She has had training in animal adjusting and served as Clinic Doctor at the Pennsylvania Chiropractic College.
  • For the past eight years, her experience has been in higher education as a Continuing Education Director.
  • A dog owner for most of her life, Judi has enjoyed the company of a German Shepherd, two Great Danes, and a Yorkshire Terrier. She currently resides in Elkins Park, PA with her rescue dog, Patrick, a long-haired Dachshund mix. During the 2013 holiday season, Judi and Patrick served as a temporary foster family for the Work Dog Center, welcoming Bretagne as their special guest.

Meaghan DeCorso

  • Foster CoordinatorMeaghan DeCorso, Working Dog Center
  • mdecorso@upenn.edu
  • Meaghan is completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science with a Conservation and Ecology concentration at Drexel University.
  • Meaghan was first introduced to the Working Dog Center through the Internship Program for Drexel CO-OP students in March of 2015. She was instantly addicted, spending the majority of her free time building confidence in our dogs that struggled in a particular exercise.
  • When her CO-OP ended in September of 2015, she transitioned to Foster Coordinator where she now has the luxury of fostering as many dogs as she can get her hands on.
  • Meaghan is working toward her futuristic goal of supporting African Conservation where she hopes to pair her two strongest passions of canine scent detection and the conservation of the African Elephant population.
  • In her free time, Meaghan enjoys swimming, outdoor activities and DIY projects. She also has an interest in photography where most of her photographs consist of her own pets, our WDC dogs, and candids of her friends and family.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center Team