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Penn Vet Working Dog Center to Celebrate Five-Year Anniversary with Ceremony and Live Demonstrations

By: John Donges Date: Aug 22, 2017

Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Center reflects on past, present, and future endeavors

[August 22, 2017; Philadelphia, PA] – The Penn Vet Working Dog Center, widely recognized as the nation’s premier research and training facility dedicated to the health and performance of detection dogs, will celebrate its five-year anniversary on Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. Located at 3401 Grays Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, the ceremony will take place at the Pennovation Center, with live demonstrations held at the Working Dog Center.

During the ceremony, speakers will include Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks; Dr. Cindy Otto, Executive Director of the Working Dog Center; and Maureen Rush, Vice President for Public Safety at Penn.

Also scheduled to speak:
A.T. Charlie Johnson – Penn School of Arts & Sciences, collaborating on ovarian cancer detection research

Denise Corliss – member of Texas Task Force 1 and owner/handler of Bretagne, the last surviving search dog deployed to the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks, who died last summer 

Ricardo St. Hilaire, Esq. – Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law & Policy Research, collaborating on an antiquities detection study

Meghan Ramos – Fourth-year Penn Vet student

Hugh Allen – Senior Director of Commonwealth Relations, Penn Office of Government and Community Affairs

Simon Blanchard – Canine Hander Academy representative

Author and educator Alexandra Horowitz will host and interview the speakers. Horowitz wrote “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” and heads the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab. She teaches seminars in canine cognition and creative nonfiction writing at Barnard College, Columbia University.

Demonstrations will feature live search exercises at the Working Dog Center's rubble field, vehicular searches, agility, law enforcement apprehension exercise, and fitness/fit to work.

“It is hard to believe that just five years ago we were embarking on a little experiment to see if we could create a research and training center for detection dogs,” said Dr. Cindy Otto. “Now, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is widely recognized as a national resource for research, education, and care of working dogs, and we feel great pride that some of our incredible graduates are working to keep our country healthy and safe.”

Future Endeavors

Looking to the next five years, the Working Dog Center envisions becoming a National Center of Excellence for Detection Dogs, extending the reach of research collaborations and education, and continuing to discover new knowledge to support working dogs.

In addition, the Working Dog Center plans to establish a national working dog breeding cooperative, in an effort to find solutions to the challenge of ensuring the availability of the healthiest and most effective detection dogs to serve our country.

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 training 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. For more information, visit

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 34,600 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 6,200 patient visits a year, while our Field Services have gone out on more than 5,500 farm service calls, treating some 18,700 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.