New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Volunteer at the Center

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center serves as a national research and development center and training center for scent detection dogs. Our dogs are trained to find victims of disasters; detect explosives, narcotics, invasive species, and diseases in humans and animals; apprehend criminals, and conduct search & rescue missions.

As pioneers in the working dog field, our goal is to increase collaborative research and the application of the newest scientific findings and veterinary expertise to optimize the performance of lifesaving detection dogs.

Volunteer with the Working Dog Center

Learn About Volunteering Opportunities

Volunteers are a valuable asset to the Working Dog Center. We are eager for you to be part of our team! It is fun and rewarding.

There are a lot of ways to help beyond the daily care and training of our dogs. Below are just a few ideas. If you have a special talent or resource you would like to share, please contact our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at or call 215-898-2200.

 Share Your Special Talents

  • Computer Skills
  • Handyperson
  • Creative Writing
  • Video Labeling
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Data Entry
  • Clerical
  • Organization Skills

Volunteer FAQs

  • Is there an age limit for volunteers?

    Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.  Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome!

  • Can I volunteer on weekends?

    The Working Dog Center is not open on weekends.  Volunteer time can be scheduled anytime Monday through Friday, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

  • Is there a dress code?

    We ask everyone to wear long pants (khakis or jeans; note, no leggings, tights, sweatpants, shorts, capris, or scrubs are allowed) and flat, closed toe shoes. Dress for weather. Long hair should be pulled back and up and nails kept relatively short to prevent injury to you or our dogs.

  • Do I need to commit to a regular schedule in order to volunteer

    Volunteers do not need to commit to a schedule. You can come as your schedule allows. However, we want your time with us to be meaningful for all so we strongly encourage a commitment of at least 6 hours per month, with a 2-hour minimum shift when you are here.

  • How do I begin?

    The first step is to attend a Tour & Volunteer Information Session, which is held monthly.
    Check our website or contact the center at 215-898-2200 for the schedule and to register. Tours fill-up quickly so call in advance.

  • How do I schedule volunteer time at the center?

    After the Tour & Volunteer Information Session, you will schedule your first day with the Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator during which you will receive a comprehensive orientation to the PVWDC and the volunteer experience, including the mechanism for scheduling your volunteer time each week.

  • How can I help?

    Let us know if you have a special talent or resource you would like to share.  Here are just a few ideas: computer skills, carpentry or light maintenance, data entry, photography, painting.

  • What other opportunities are available to volunteers?

    Volunteers support the center and the trainers in many ways. Most volunteers are assigned to a trainer and his/her team of dogs. Volunteers can video tape the training, collect data, help set up for training session, and label and organize videos.

  • What are some general ‘go to’ tasks that volunteers can do?

    Here are some examples:  Refill treat bins, label treat bags, cut up cheese, prepare licksticks and other high value reinforcers, make copies, scan files, load and run dishwasher, do laundry, fill water bowls, refill spray bottles, and label and organize videos.

  • Can volunteers walk dogs?

    This depends on the individual and the dog. Anyone interested in walking dogs must be trained, assessed and cleared by their assigned trainer. This can be done over a period of time that is comfortable for the volunteer. There is no time limit. The more you are here and working with the dogs, the faster your skills will develop.

  • What about transportation?

    Check your Septa Service for bus routes. If you are a Penn employee or Penn student, call the Penn Shuttle Service at 215-898-7433.  If you drive, free parking is available at the Pennovation Works campus at 3401 Grays Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19146

Become a Working Dog Foster

Volunteer Karen holding a dutchie pupDuring the day puppies will be in foundation training at the Center, but we need local families to share their evenings and weekends with their foster puppy to provide a warm, comfortable, social home environment. After approximately 12 months of fostering, your puppy will go on to his job at his permanent home…and you’ll get a new puppy if you’d like to continue fostering.

Interested in being considered to be a full-time or temporary foster for one of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center puppies?

Want to Volunteer?

Volunteer Sarah holding two dutchie puppiesContact our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at or 215-898-2200.

First Things First: Sign Up for a Tour

Learn more about our mission and discover the best way for you to contribute by scheduling a tour of the Working Dog Center. You'll learn about our Puppy Foundation Program, witness a search-and-rescue demonstration, meet our team, and discover how dogs can sniff out everything from cancer and other diseases to invasive species that threaten our environment. 

Schedule your tour...