Friday, January 29, 2010

Heart O'My Town: David Dorn, V.M.D.

David Dorn always knew he'd be a veterinarian.  Growing up with "at least a dog and a cat all the time," the third-generation Mt. Lebanite completed his undergraduate studies in Colorado and then attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania.  That explains why there's a "V.M.D." after his name as opposed to the more common "D.V.M."  Turns out that Penn's veterinary school was based, and developed, out of a medical school as opposed to most veterinary programs, which are borne from land-grant agricultural colleges.

The road back from Penn to Mt. Lebanon was something of a circuitous route for Dorn.  "I now realize I was searching for something better -- I think I was looking for a beach!" he chuckles.  "I tried California but the school system was bad and the water was cold.  It wasn't the Atlantic.  I spent a year in Massachusetts and that wasn't what I was looking for, either.  Once you settle down here, you understand why you're back."

For Dorn, having his mom in town was a plus.  He also had fond memories of the town.  "I remember we always kept our door unlocked," he says.  "And I could meet someone new in school and invariably, my mom knew their parents and grandparents."  His attempt to set up a veterinary office in Mt. Lebanon in the early 1990s, however, wasn't as seamless.  "I tried hard to get a location at the north end of Washington Road but they effectively zoned vets out of Mt. Lebanon!  I don't know what they were afraid of," he says.  At his current location, the West Liberty Animal Hospital in Dormont, Dorn says the neighbors are happy to have them and pleased "we light up the alley at night."  Even though he's on the other side of the municipal line, Dorn sees many Mt. Lebanon residents at his practice.

A 1971 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High, Dorn's two eldest children have already graduated from the school and his youngest is now a junior.  Like many residents, Dorn sees things that need to be done.  "We need more fields for kids to play sports.  The ones we have are overused and beat up -- the kids are playing on mud.  I'd much rather see kids play sports than go to the mall or hang out or get on X Box."  Dorn also laments the shift in neighborliness ("When I was a kid, I talked to all the neighbors and now it's maybe half") and sees a need for more community policing, that friendly cop-on-the-beat who knows the neighborhood and everyone in it.

Even so, Dorn can't imagine a better place to be.  "There are people here who are absolutely amazing.  Most people want to make things better and care enough to put in the extra effort to make it happen."  As for his work, "I can't think of a better job in the world.  I might be having a down day, say if I have to euthanize an animal, and then I step into the next room and a puppy licks my face.  It's the way things are -- it's life.  I've also got a great staff."

If all dogs and cats go to heaven, their journey will be much more pleasant if they visit Dr. Dorn's office along the way.  Be sure to say hello to the spry gal running the place -- that's Mom.


  1. Dr. Dorn is the best! When he had to euthanize our 16 yr old cat, he was very kind and empathetic. He gave us as much time as we needed to grieve in his office. He also sent us a beautifully worded and handwritten condolence card in the mail. We used to go to VCA in Castle Shannon, but had a bad experience once. We switched to Dr. Dorn and have never regretted it!

  2. Glad to hear about a compassionate local vet. We had an emergency visit to VCA that ended with having our 12 yr. old diabetic cat being euthanized. It was a horrible experience at VCA, and I would never go back there.

    Next time I need a vet, I'll keep Dr. Dorn in mind!

  3. Love Dr. Dorn!!!! He has taken care of my many guinea pigs since high school! Such a good guy.


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