Dr. Cindy Otto, whose work at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks inspired her founding of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, is the recipient of the 2016 Kennel Club of Philadelphia "Dogs’ Best Friend Award."
A tenured associate professor of critical care at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Otto is the sixth winner of the award, and will direct the resulting Kennel Club of Philadelphia (KCP) $5,000 donation to the nationally-renowned Penn Vet Working Dog Center (WDC). Opened on September 11, 2012, the WDC is the nation’s premier research, training and educational facility dedicated to producing an elite group of detection dogs for public safety and public health (www.PennVetWDC.org).
Among the skills for which canines are trained at the WDC are Diabetes Alert, Ovarian Cancer Detection, Narcotics Detection, Explosives Detection, Law Enforcement and Urban Search & Rescue. Dr. Otto and WDC dogs will demonstrate some of those skills in the National Dog Show stadium show ring on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 11:45 a.m. in a featured performance.
In addition to 9/11, Dr. Otto was deployed to Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She is one of America’s foremost authorities on search & rescue and detection dogs through her work at Penn Vet.
"It is an honor to receive this award, but it is really the other way around," said Dr. Otto. “I feel like I have been privileged to have been befriended by amazing dogs throughout my life! I have connected with dogs for as long as I can remember and they have all impacted me in one way or another. The search and rescue dogs have worked their way into my heart and my soul.
"It is their inspiration that motivated me to learn to train my own dog and to dedicate my career to working dogs. Every day I am able to advance the research, training and care needed to ensure that all working dog heroes have the best opportunity to partner with us to save lives."
"As a Past Trustee of the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine, I am very much aware of Dr. Otto's dedication, devotion and leadership at the Working Dog Center," said KCP President Wayne Ferguson. "The Kennel Club of Philadelphia is very honored to present the 6th Annual Dogs’ Best Friend Award to Dr. Otto."
The Kennel Club of Philadelphia created The Dogs’ Best Friend Award to inspire and motivate others to contribute to animal welfare in their community and to protect our region’s dogs, whose service and companionship are a critical and enriching part of American life.
Past winners of the award are former Philadelphia Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley and his wife, Jen, for their establishment of the Utley Foundation; CBS3 meteorologist, animal enthusiast and TV personality Carol Erickson; Marian Marchese, the founder of New Leash on Life USA, which takes at-risk dogs into Philadelphia prisons to be cared for by inmates preparing for release back into society; Morris Animal Rescue of Philadelphia, America’s oldest such facility; and the Martin & Toni Sosnoff Foundation, which paid the medical bills of search and rescue dogs who worked at 9/11.