If you asked Dawn Urioste when she was a child exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer would have changed depending on her age. At one time, she wanted to be a policewoman—that way she could work up close and personal with the canine units—then later she hoped to sit atop a police horse. Next, she thought for sure she’d work in a zoo with bigger, more exotic animals. For Dr. Urioste, the world was full of possibility and jobs that seemed different, yet had one common thread: animals.
Dr. Urioste eventually zeroed in on the goal of becoming a veterinarian, the go-to profession for those who love animals. Happily, that deep-rooted desire led her to Paoli Vetcare, where Dawn has been providing exceptional care to patients for over 6 years. Clients rave about her knowledge, compassion, and genuine love for cats and dogs. But of course, like many roads in life, Dr. Urioste journeyed on a curvy, roundabout path to get here.
Before she became a part of the Paoli Vetcare team, before she got her start helping pets, and before she even enrolled at the Colorado State University of School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Urioste served in the US Army during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in both Saudi Arabia and Iraq. After Dr. Urioste graduated from the CSU School of Veterinary Medicine in 1994, she continued to serve her country in the Army Reserve. Her main job? Like most veterinarians in the military, she was a Veterinary Specialist in charge of food safety and responsible to care for the Army’s working dogs.
“What I did wasn’t what you’d typically think of when you think about what it means to be part of the Army,” Dr. Dawn said. “Sure, we’d help the military working dogs, making sure they are up-to-date on vaccines, dewormed, and treated them from minor illnesses, but our biggest job was food inspection.” Dr. Urioste checked the dining facilities, as well as the food preparation areas and the water storage containers—these responsibilities were added to the duties of US Army Reserve vets after the Second World War.
“It definitely wasn’t something I thought I would be doing coming out of vet school, and it’s not the path most veterinary students choose, but it was nice to be in a different place and do a different thing for a while,” Dr. Urioste said. Thanks to her training in the military, she is one of only a few local vets certified to provide traveling pets with International Export Certificates as well as USDA Vet Animal Health Certificates. Dawn would always be grateful for the interesting places she went, the uncommon things she experienced, and of course, the amazing people and animals she was able to help.
Fast forward to the present, Dr. Urioste has been a vet for 21 years now—she specializes in small animal medicine and spends her days caring for dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, and more. While she loves preventive medicine, as well as diagnosing and treating sick pets, she truly relishes the connections she makes with both animals and people.
Dr. Dawn has been a staple at Paoli Vetcare for 6 years. Though she spent some time in Colorado working towards her degree, she ultimately decided to come back to her hometown on the Philadelphia Main Line. Here, she met her boyfriend, made her home, and, luckily for us, found Paoli Vetcare.
Although she loves working with the exceptional Paoli Vetcare team, animals are her true passion. “Ultimately, it’s the big picture of knowing I’m helping animals, and that, of course, I’m helping people, too,” Dr. Dawn said, “But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you the best days are when owners bring puppies and kittens in—the cuteness never gets old—at least, it hasn’t for me.”
Dr. Dawn recognizes that being a vet isn’t always kitten cuddles and puppy snuggles—some days can be challenging. “Of course, euthanasia is really rough,” Dr. Dawn said, “Giving people the bad news that their pet has something that we maybe can’t fix is so hard. Breaking that news, especially when they don’t think, initially, their pet is dealing with something serious, it’s devastating to the client. And of course, it takes a toll on me, personally.”
What’s Dr. Dawn’s secret to dealing with loss gracefully? Lots of compassion and gentle advice about the wide range of pet loss services. For grieving pet parents, both practice owner Dr. Jay Rowan and Dr. Dawn recommend Day by Day Pet Caregiver Support because they help folks cope by offering in-person meetings,online chats, and even a Pet Loss 24/7 hotline. Clients are often surprised and grateful to learn Paoli Vetcare’s facility includes a unique service, onsite private cremation.
Of course, like most vets, Dr. Dawn’s love for animals doesn’t end when she walks out of the doors of the vet clinic—she has six of her own animals at home. Her four cats (Vinnie, Roomba, Willow, and Hunter) and her two dogs (Lexi and Zoe, both chihuahuas) are members of her family that serve as constant reminders of the power of the human-animal bond.
“I do my best when I interact with people, to show them that, for me, it’s more than just ‘how’s your pet feeling today?’” Dr. Dawn said. “I follow up, I check in, I make sure they know that we truly care about their pets and them too.” The entire staff of Paoli Vetcare animal hospital prides itself on their close relationships with pet parents, accessibility for questions, and follow-through on medical problems and surgeries. This personal approach is what makes Paoli Vetcare the best reviewed veterinary hospital on the Main Line!