September 25, 2013 in Nation/World

Working dogs graduate at Penn

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A Labrador retriever named Socks has her cap adjusted during a commencement ceremony Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

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 Tuesday’s commencement ceremony 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 U.S. 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 currently being trained at the center are named for canines who served on 9/11.

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