Dr. Otto is a tenured professor of Working Dog Sciences & Sports Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, after 23 years as an attending clinician in the Emergency Service, in 2015 she transitioned to full-time Executive Director of the Penn Vet Working Dogs Center and Canine Sports Medicine clinician. Dr. Otto is board-certified in both veterinary emergency and critical care and veterinary sports medicine.
She has been involved in disaster medicine as a member of the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 from 1994 to 2010 and Veterinary Medical Assistance Team – 2 from 1999 to 2016. She began monitoring the health and behavior of Urban Search and Rescue dogs in October of 2001 after serving as a first responder for the 9/11 attacks. This work inspired her to establish the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, the premier national research and development program for detection dogs.
Her research program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the American Heart Association, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery, Morris Animal Foundation, Kleberg Foundation, Kaleidoscope of Hope and other foundations. 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.
She 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. The Philadelphia Kennel Club named her “Dog’s Best Friend” in 2016. Dr. Otto was also the recipient of the 2018 AVMA Bustad Companion Animal of the Year Award.
She has been involved in dog sports (flyball, agility, and tricks), and also provides pet therapy in the Philadelphia area, with her rescued Bichon mix, Dolce.
- 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-present
- Advisory Committee for The Center for Animal and Human Relationships (CENTAUR) VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine 2012-2016
- Hand2Paw – Board member 2012-present