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Working Dog Center Press Releases

First Diabetes Alert Dog, Narcotics Detection Dog, and Urban Search and Rescue Dog Graduate from Penn Vet Working Dog Center

By Ashley Berke Published: Oct 28, 2014

[October 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA] – Bretagne, a two-year-old Golden Retriever; Morgan, a two-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever; and Thunder, a two-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever, graduated from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center today as the program’s first diabetes alert dog, urban search and rescue dog, and narcotics detection dog, respectively. All three dogs were members of the Center’s inaugural class of puppies in September 2012.

Morgan, pictured with her new handler, Trooper Brian Stanker, Dr. Cynthia Otto, his two former fosters, and the breeder from Dogworks Kennels.“Throughout their training, Bretagne, Morgan, and Thunder consistently surpassed our highest expectations,” said Dr. Cindy Otto, Executive Director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. “We are incredibly proud of these dogs and wish them well in their new partnerships. It will be extremely rewarding to see them thrive in their careers as they put their scent-detection skills to work in order to save lives.”

About Bretagne

In her new role, Bretagne will alert her owner, Wayne Mowry of Bloomingdale, NJ, when his blood sugar is out of normal range. Mowry has had type I diabetes since the age of 10. For a photo of Bretagne and Wayne, click here.

“It’s a comfort having Bretagne with me, knowing that she is trained to help me when my blood sugar goes below the normal range,” said Mowry. “She alerts me before the drop in blood sugar has a drastic impact on my health.”

Bretagne received her certification from the Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) Alliance. To pass the certification test, a dog-and-handler team must demonstrate the dog’s ability to alert on the handler’s glycemic low or high as well as behave obediently in all public situations. The public portion of the test includes entering and exiting a car, resting quietly under a restaurant table, navigating escalators and elevators easily, boarding public transit, and ignoring distractions that range from food to toddlers. A separate scent discrimination test requires the dog to successfully indicate the presence of glycemic odor in a double-blind test, where neither the test observer nor the handler knows beforehand which of four samples contains the odor. The entire test is videotaped then reviewed by a committee of experienced trainers affiliated with the DAD Alliance. For more information about Bretagne’s training, click here. For video of Bretagne’s training, click here.

Bretagne, born on May 29, 2012, was donated to the Center by Shorewood Retrievers. She is named in honor of Bretagne Corliss, one of only two dogs still alive today who deployed to the World Trade Center following the attacks on 9/11. 

About Morgan

Morgan will join Trooper Brian Stanker in the New Jersey State Police Narcotic Detection K9 Unit.

“The training that Morgan received at Penn Vet Working Dog Center, combined with his natural high drive and desire to work, have resulted in a canine that is a pleasure to partner with,” said Stanker.

In preparation for his narcotics detection career, Morgan successfully completed the Center’s puppy foundation program, which includes obedience, agility, direction, and control and search training. Morgan’s search training started with extensive work searching for live hidden people, then expanded to include searching for specific scents on vehicles, in buildings, and on luggage and parcels. Morgan’s training at the Center was complete once he was imprinted on the odors of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.  His training continues with Trooper Stanker to become a certified Narcotics Detection Canine. For video of Morgan’s training, click here

Morgan, born on July 13, 2012, was donated to the Center by Dogworks Kennels.

He is named in honor of Morgan Johnson, who deployed to the Staten Island Landfill following the attacks on 9/11. For a photo of Morgan, click here.

About Thunder

Thunder will join Spring Pittore of New Jersey Task Force One, to provide advanced technical search and rescue capabilities to victims trapped or entombed in structurally collapsed buildings. 

“Thunder and I have spent a few months building our bond. I could not ask for a dog with a better personality. But more importantly, Thunder knows his job and does it very well,” said Pittore. 

During his training, Thunder built the confidence to search and find targets in a variety of environments, including buildings, vehicles, a giant rubble pile, and an array of outdoor areas. Urban search and rescue dogs rely heavily on their noses to hunt, while staying focused on their task without distraction. Click here to learn more about search and rescue training at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. For video of Thunder’s training, click here.

Thunder, born on July 21, 2012, was donated to the Center by TGK’s Nebraska Pointing Labs. He is named in honor of Thunder Sessions, who deployed to the Pentagon following the attacks on 9/11. For a photo of Thunder, click here.

About the Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Opened on September 11, 2012, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is the nation’s premier research and educational facility dedicated to harnessing the unique strengths of our canine partners and producing an elite group of scent-detection dogs for public safety and health. Dogs in the program are named in honor of individuals who lost their lives on 9/11 and canine heroes who served following the attacks. For more information, visit www.pennvetwdc.org.

Other graduates of the Working Dog Center include: 

  • Socks (yellow Labrador Retriever), the first canine cadet to join the Penn Police
  • Ronnie (German Shepherd), explosives detection dog for SEPTA
  • Kaiserin (Dutch Shepherd), explosives detection dog for SEPTA

Working Dog Center