1st canine class graduates
PHILADELPHIA — A training center inspired by canine rescue work on 9/11 is graduating its first class of working dogs, some of whom will embark on search-and-rescue careers, while others will serve as canine assistants to people with medical conditions.
An excited yellow Labrador retriever named Socks was fitted with a mortarboard and tassel at the commencement ceremony on Tuesday at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center before going off to start her new job on the campus police force.
Socks is among seven dogs in the inaugural class at the center, which opened in Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 2012. Cindy Otto, a longtime emergency clinician at the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school, wanted to honor the animals that worked so hard after terrorists struck the United States in 2001.
“I spent 10 days at Ground Zero taking care of the working dogs there and recognized what an incredible gift those dogs are to our society and how important they are,” said Otto, now the center's director.
All 16 dogs being trained at the center are named for canines who served on 9/11. Donated by breeders, the pooches live in “foster homes” with volunteers who care for them while they're not learning how to sniff out explosives, drugs or missing people.
Six other dogs who graduated with Socks did not get mortarboards because they are still awaiting permanent placements. But the pooches demonstrated their search skills on a manufactured “rubble pile” and their agility on an obstacle course.
Officials said local police and fire departments have expressed significant interest in the remaining dogs, including a chocolate Lab named Thunder. The animals cost $10,000 each, with the money going to defray the costs of training.
“Thunder is definitely an urban search-and-rescue dog,” Otto said. “He is bold, he is strong, he has no fear on the rubble, and he will search like a machine, which is exactly what you want in a disaster setting.”
A more mellow golden retriever named Bretagne will likely become a diabetic alert dog, able to help detect when her owner's blood sugar is getting low.
And Socks, the first canine member of the Penn police, has already started attending advanced bomb detection school, said Maureen Rush, superintendent of the campus force.
“Socks is way ahead of the game because of the great work that's been done already through the Working Dog Center,” Rush said.
Meanwhile, the second class of working dogs is training hard. Three have already put their noses to work in an ovarian cancer detection study.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- LCB follows Wolf ’s lead, votes to prohibit all gifts
- Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf to sign order barring drilling of new oil, gas wells in state forests, parks
- Officials dissent on whether offices can prohibit, charge to photograph public record documents
- Lauded Montgomery County DA will make decision about Kane case