All of our staff have the educational degrees, continuing education, training, tenure and love of animals for their respective roles. Here’s what you really need to know:
Dalia Bloze, DVM
Dr. Bloze hadn’t planned to follow in the footsteps of her father who was veterinarian but having grown up around a rural practice and then working at her father’s equine and small animal practice when he moved to Cleveland, veterinary medicine had simply grown into her.
Because of working with her father in the days when specialists and diagnostic capabilities were limited in veterinary medicine, Dr. Bloze is one of the few veterinarians today who has done many of the surgeries that now are done exclusively by veterinary specialists and who can have a hunch about diagnosis from a physical exam even before the results of testing are in.
Even with this long experience, Dr. Bloze respects the challenges the profession offers regularly. She feels privileged to implement standards of excellence at St. Francis Animal Hospital, honored to work with such a dedicated staff and just plain happy to meet and treat so many wonderful animals.
Dr. Bloze earned a B.A. degree in biochemistry from Smith College, Massachusetts in 1976 where she also won a research grant in neurobiology and a D.V.M. degree from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981. She worked at her father’s practice until she built St. Francis Animal Hospital in 1990. She appeared on a weekly televised pet care segment on WEWS “Live on Five” for several years during the 1980s.
She shares a home with Dr. Larry Kilbane who retired as a veterinarian at St. Francis, 2 dogs and 3 cats. Having competed as a triathlete—including at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship in 1987—Dr. Bloze does her best to go cycling whenever possible.
Jae Kwon, DVM
Dr. Kwon joined our practice as an associate veterinarian in February 2019 with extensive experience in shelter medicine. It was there that he honed his surgery skills. After some time, he decided to enter private practice where he could follow up on pets he cared for and develop longterm relationships with their owners.
Dr. Kwon’s greatest affinity is for surgery, including orthopedic ACL surgery and for dental procedures which include many or difficult extractions. He is constantly improving his skills by taking in-depth short courses and by doing online continuing education in every free moment. He derives great satisfaction in returning a dog to pain free mobility after an ACL surgery. He especially loves when owners see what benefit their pet derives from appropriate dental care and a pain-free mouth.
Dr. Kwon graduated from Kyungpook National University in South Korea with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He then met the extensive requirements of the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2012 and received his Ohio Veterinary license the same year. Dr. Kwon is multilingual and bi-cultural but chose to emigrate to the U.S. with his family after spending half his life in the U.S.
He lives with his wife who is also a veterinarian with an additional PhD degree working in research, his 2 children, a cat, a dog and a guinea pig.
Laurel Zarefoss, RVT
Laurel is our veterinary technician emeritus having worked at St. Francis since 1999. From the beginning, her dedication to the field and her pride in St. Francis not only have made her indispensable here but she has molded our professional and family-style work culture.
Recognizing the important place pets have in families, Laurel will say that the most fulfilling aspect of her work is making a positive difference in people’s lives. You shouldn’t be surprised when Laurel remembers details about your family or your pets long after you’ve shared them.
Laurel earned a B.S. degree in education with a concentration in mathematics and science from St. Francis University in Pennsylvania in 1974. She was a teacher at St. Bartholomew in Middleburg Hts. before changing careers. She received her associate degree in veterinary technology from Tri-C in 2001, passed her boards in the same year and maintains a current RVT license.
Laurel lives with her husband and one dog. She enjoys her children, grandchildren and their pets outside of work. Her life’s purpose to make a difference motivates her volunteerism as well—especially for the monthly community meals at her church.
Alexandria Narowitz, RVT
Alex attended Bowling Green State University with an intention to pursue a degree in nursing but having realized she had more of a calling to help animals, Alex switched to Stautzenberger College in Erie, Michigan where she earned her degree in veterinary technology in 2016. Alex passed her licensing boards the same year. Along with this education and training, Alex brings a gentle, nurturing manner to the care of every patient that passes through our hospital. She earned a fear-free certification in December 2019.
As a registered veterinary technician, Alex is proficient in the technical aspects of veterinary medicine. Beyond the basics, Alex enjoys helping to educate clients whether it be on diabetes, hyperthyroidism or heartworm disease. She has a particular interest in providing low-stress exams and procedures for every pet. She is also equally committed in getting to know a pet and its owner and the nature of the bond that is shared.
Alex relishes learning about new techniques and advancements that can improve outcomes for patients. She completed an in-depth dentistry short course in 2017. While in Michigan, Alex volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center.
In her free time, Alex enjoys camping and music festivals. She enjoys the company of her 2 cats who know how to “high five” & “speak” for treats.
When asked why she chose St. Francis Animal Hospital as her place of employment, Alex stated that she enjoys the close family atmosphere, strong relationships with pet owners, and the research and quality of medicine practiced here. Alex is a perfect fit to our professional family.
Jeff Martin, RVT
Jeff has worked at St Francis Animal Hospital as a registered veterinary technician since September 2017. He graduated from his veterinary technology program at Cuyahoga Community College in 2014 and worked in a high volume practice where he gained a broad range of experience prior to coming to St. Francis While at St. Francis, Jeff has pursued his special interest in veterinary dentistry and radiography with additional in-depth training.
Jeff brings a broad range of life experience to the job as well. He served in the Navy on the aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson. He also worked as a sous chef at an upscale restaurant. The take-away here is that Jeff masters everything he tries!
Jeff lives with his longtime girlfriend, her 2 boys and his dog.
Daniel Mielke, Veterinary Assistant
Daniel joined our staff in 2014 after 14 years of experience at a veterinary hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He is accomplished in all areas of this practice and has a very steady, consistent manner. He loves to work closely with the veterinarians and to see the puzzles of diagnosis and treatment unfold.
While working full-time at St. Francis, Daniel also studied full-time to become a respiratory therapist. He finished his program and passed his board exams in 2019. He now works full-time at Cleveland Clinic. However, since Daniel has always had such an affinity for the veterinary field, he continues to work at St. Francis part-time.
Daniel is married and, together with his wife, they share their home with 4 cats and a dog.
Dorrie Dabato, Veterinary Assistant
Dorrie finally decided to follow her heart and find a job where she could work with animals after working in an office for most of her life. She found what she was looking for when she started to work at St. Francis Animal Hospital in 2011.
She has the biggest heart for all of our patients and she provides comfort and enrichment to every pet during its stay whether it be an additional blanket warmed in the dryer, an extra walk outdoors, a special treat, some play time or some quiet attention.
Dorrie’s empathy for pet owners is also profound and she will help them navigate through therapy options while understanding the pressure owners feel even as she advocates for the pets.
Dorrie graduated from Valley Forge High School in 1976 and received some additional training in computer programming from the Cleveland Institute of Technology in 1986. She has had over 20 years of experience in customer service & logistics. She shares a home with 2 dogs and a bird.
Julie Bender, Veterinary Assistant
Julie gained all her experience working with animals here at St. Francis since 2005 but she came with a natural ability to read animals. She has become so accomplished in so many areas but perhaps her most distinctive talent is in animal restraint for which she is both fearless and reassuring. Owners whose cats become extremely anxious when here will likely appreciate Julie as a “cat whisperer.” Julie is always understanding of a cat’s anxiety—even if it becomes spiteful. She is ever patient with animals.
Julie is the perfect support person in our practice, always anticipating the needs of the doctors and other team members. She has gained a deep knowledge of all the areas of this practice and usually through her own initiative. She is so dependable and helpful with special needs pets that many of our clients have employed her to tend to their pets at their homes when they have been unable to do so themselves.
Julie graduated from Strongsville High school in 2002. While in high school, Julie completed the Ohio Peace Officer Training at Polaris and was elected to the National Vocational Technical Honors Society. As soon as her children are old enough to be in school, Julie plans to finally enroll in preparatory courses for the veterinary technology program for which she is ideally suited. She lives with her husband, 2 children, 2 cats and 1 dog.
Kaitlin Pettit, Veterinary Assistant (not pictured)
Kaitlin has joined our practice part-time in 2019 as she continues to pursue her studies full-time at Cleveland State University. She continues to volunteer at the Cleveland Animal Protective League and has volunteered in summers at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Kaitlin is a quick study and interacts really well with animals. A team player, Kaitlin has been a perfect addition to the St. Francis work family.
Haley Shuman, Veterinary Assistant
Haley came to St. Francis in October 2017 with extraordinary talent and phenomenal animal handling skills from working at a Pennsylvania clinic. Perhaps more relevant is that she grew up on a mountaintop in rural Pennsylvania with dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, a parrot and a turtle as pets. Notably, she trained her Australian Shepherd in agility and competed with him earning 3 championship titles at the highest masters level.
Besides working with animals, Haley says she loves educating owners on how to best take care of their pets—dovetailing perfectly with the mission statement of St. Francis Animal Hospital. She has a goal to make every pet visit as stress free as possible. For Haley, it is important to work as part of a like-minded, happy work family which she feels is true at St. Francis.
Haley lives with her boyfriend and 3 cats—2 of which have special needs.
Ann Klatka, Weekend Kennel Manager
If St. Francis is our patron saint, then Ann is our angel. A long time assistant to Dr. Dalia Bloze’s father, veterinarian Dr. W.H. Bloze, Ann has maintained a long-standing affection for the entire Bloze family. and continues to work for Dr. Dalia Bloze to this day. Her diligence, generosity and dependability for the weekend care of our patients for 2 generations of veterinary practice it a rare treasure. Ann has a quiet, gentle manner that reassures the hospitalized pets and should reassure owners who have left their pets in our care.
When not working at St. Francis on weekends, Ann works full-time at the Strongsville Giant Eagle Marketplace as a cake decorator in the bakery department. It is like Christmas morning every holiday when our staff gleefully finds the bakery Ann drops off for us in the wee hours as Ann goes to her weekday job. In her free time, Ann takes her dog with her everywhere and always keeps it perfectly groomed—something she learned to do while working years ago for Dr. Dalia Bloze’s father.