Penn Vet Working Dog Center

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center, founded and directed by veterinarian Cynthia Otto, trains dogs to search and rescue, sniff out indicators of disease, and detect bioterrorism threats. Constant innovation in the dog’s selection and training is important to their success, and that requires a diverse supply of space and thought leaders. At the Center, dogs enjoy Pennovation Works’ green open space, warehouses, office areas, and other indoor spaces as they learn how to detect threats in a wide variety of contexts.

The Center doesn’t just train the dogs. The team researches canine genetics, emergency medicine, reproduction, and behavior to select dogs that are predisposed to the rigorous training working dogs undergo. One of the reasons for this research is to expand the pool from which working dogs are selected.

Currently, most of the dogs come from breeders. However, many dogs in shelters need permanent homes, and it is the Center’s hope that their research will help other organizations successfully identify shelter dogs that will excel at being working dogs.

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine actively supports the Center, contributing scientists, clinicians, and veterinary students. 


trains dogs to search and rescue, sniff out indicators of disease