rubble pile

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight the history of the Center’s relationship with the Search & Rescue community, and give you some insight into our Search & Rescue training program.

The Working Dog Center was founded in 2007, but the seeds of Dr. Cindy Otto’s vision were planted much earlier.

Dr. Otto deployed with Pennsylvania Task Force One to Ground Zero, where she monitored the Search and Rescue dogs who were working at the World Trade Center. Her job was “strictly to take care of the dogs”. Not only those associated with the Pennsylvania team, but any of the other search dogs or animals that needed assistance.

After returning from Ground Zero, Dr. Otto, with a grant provided by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, initiated the only longitudinal study to follow the effects of the deployment to the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Staten Island Landfill on the Search & Rescue dogs’ immediate and long-term health and behavior. At this time, we are still actively following 2 deployed dogs and 2 control dogs.

Read more about the 9/11 Medical Surveillance Study HERE.

It wasn’t until 2007, that Dr. Otto’s full vision came to fruition and the Working Dog Center was officially formed. In 2012, the Working Dog Center opened its training center on the South Bank Campus at the University of Pennsylvania.

At the Working Dog Center, we continue to conduct research and train a variety of detection dogs including Search & Rescue. We honor the legacy of the 9/11 search dogs who deployed and participated in our 9/11 study by naming our puppies after them. It’s a way that we keep our history in mind, while we look to grow our family.

View our 9/11 Search Dog Memorial HERE.