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This profile was last updated on 1/30/15  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Joe Cortese

Wrong Dr. Joe Cortese?

Beloved Local Veterinarian

Local Address:  La Canada , California , United States

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • D.V.M.
  • Fort Sumner High School
  • New Mexico State University
  • BS degree
    Colorado State University , College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
  • D.V.M. degree
  • Veterinary Degree
30 Total References
Web References
SJC Open Space Winter 2013 Newsletter, 30 Jan 2015 [cached]
Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Coming Soon!
Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Coming Soon!
The dog park is named in memory of local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, a passionate leader of veterinary medicine who made a lasting impact on everyone he encountered. Dr. Cortese's name will forever live on through the first dedicated dog park in San Juan Capistrano.
Fall Newsletter, 30 Jan 2015 [cached]
Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Now Open!
Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Now Open!
The dog park is named after beloved local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, a passionate and proactive leader of veterinary medicine who made a lasting impact on all he encountered.
Tributes | Animal Health Foundation of California [cached]
Remembering Joe Cortese - "Dr. Fleas"
Joe dodged many bullets over the years, among them, surviving a battle with cancer in 1997, but not this one. Joe succumbed to an overwhelming infection in Lubbock, Texas on November 6, 2008. A native New Mexican from Fort Sumner, he earned his veterinary degree from Colorado State University in 1968 and moved to California. In 1973, Joe established Capistrano Veterinary Clinic where, cherished by his many clients, he practiced for 35 years. Known among his colleagues, for his quiet demeanor, wisdom, great sense of humor, ability to keep a balance in life, and great leadership, he set an example for all of us. In 1991, he was President of the Southern California Medical Association (SCVMA) and throughout the years has served veterinary medicine on various committees for SCVMA and California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Joe was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Animal Health Foundation for many years and was a past-president of the AHF. Joe drove the furthest for board meetings and never missed a meeting. He was also the Chairman of the National Chapter of the Animal Welfare Foundation. In 2000, he won the prestigious Don Mahan Award from the SCVMA.
Joe was a pillar of community involvement. He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce; President of his Rotary Club for two terms and member for 30 years; past-president and founder of CARES (Capistrano Animal Rescue Effort); board member of the San Juan Capistrano Boys and Girl's Club andthe list goes on. In 2001, he received the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce Award for Citizen of the Year. His wife, Goldee, 3 children and numerous grandchildren lost a truly caring husband, father and grandfather. Veterinary medicine and the animal welfare community lost a caring, compassionate, leader, colleague and friend with the loss of Joe. His passing leaves a hole in the hearts of his friends, his clients, his colleagues and his community, who all loved him dearly. Joe will always inspire us.
Welcome to Capistrano Veterinary Clinic, 12 Nov 2008 [cached]
Joseph Keith Cortese, D.V.M., Owner
Dr. Joe Cortese was born and raised in a small town in New Mexico. He graduated from Fort Sumner High School in 1959 and attended college at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM with Mechanical Engineering as his major. He changed his major to Civil Engineering. Unfulfilled, he realized that he needed to take a long, hard look at what he really wanted to do for the rest of his life. He was raised on a cattle ranch and caring for animals was influential in establishing his career. After taking an aptitude test, he changed his major to Veterinary Medicine. After receiving his BS degree in General Agriculture, he was accepted into Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, where he entered his freshman year in 1964. In June of 1968, Dr. Cortese graduated 3rd in his class where he received his D.V.M. degree.
He worked as a veterinarian for a busy practice in La Canada, California for five years before coming to San Juan Capistrano to start "Capistrano Veterinary Clinic" in 1973. Dr. Cortese worked hard and learned a great deal at this busy La Canada practice where he built a strong reputation as a thorough and compassionate veterinarian. While his original plan was to stay a year or two in California and then go back to New Mexico and settle down. California was calling and he followed the call. As it often happens, Dr. Joe fell in love with California.
Owning his own animal hospital was Dr. Cortese's next goal. Only by chance did he end up in San Juan Capistrano. He happened to visit this remarkable town on a Saturday afternoon during the "Swallows Day Parade", an event that celebrates the return of the swallows to Capistrano. That was in March of 1973. He watched the parade sitting on the branch of a huge sycamore tree, which is across the street from his present day clinic. He saw a sign in the strip mall's window saying "For Lease" with a phone number. He called and the rest is history. In November of 1973, Dr. Cortese proudly opened "Capistrano Veterinary Clinic".
Dr. Cortese built a first-class surgical hospital and small animal practice. He began his career by reaching out to help build a better community by being a strong and active member of the Chamber of Commerce. He joined the local Rotary Club serving as their President in the years of 1979-1980 and for a second term in 2000-2001. He also took on the responsibility of being President of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA) for the year 1991. This prestigious professional organization includes both Los Angeles and Orange County Veterinarians and it supports a membership of over 1000 veterinarians. This is the largest local veterinary association in the world. In 1990, Dr. Cortese married Goldee.
In July of 1997, Dr. Cortese was diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma lung cancer. He went through 6 months of standard chemotherapy, followed by "hi-dose chemotherapy and stem cell rescue". Finally, Dr. Cortese completed his cancer treatment with 11 weeks of radiation. As of this date, tests have shown no signs of the cancer. He is officially considered cured!
Dr. Joe's wife Goldee, the Rotary Club, the wonderful people of San Juan Capistrano, the staff and clients of Capistrano Veterinary Clinic, and his Veterinary community supported Dr. Cortese with his fight against cancer, both emotionally and financially.
Without them, Dr. Cortese would not be here today.
Dr. Cortese received the honored San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce Award for "Citizen of the Year" in 2001. He also received the "Don Mahan Veterinarian of the Year" award in 2000 from the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA). He currently serves as President of "The Animal Health Foundation", where help for senior citizen's pets are given and therapy dogs are sent to hospitals and nursing homes to visit the patients. Dr. Cortese is past-president and co-founder of C.A.R.E. "Capistrano Animal Rescue Effort", the grass roots organization that is raising funds to build a humane animal adoption center in San Juan Capistrano. He served as their Animal Welfare Chairman for many years.
Dr. Joe has a son Jeff that lives in Woodland Park, Colorado with his wife Brenda and three grandchildren, Kaleb, Mariah and Joey.
Marie has been with Dr. Cortese since 1989. She has her Veterinary Degree from Mexico.
Paula has been with Dr. Cortese since 1985.
SJC Open Space Summer 2012 Newsletter, 30 Jan 2015 [cached]
Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park
In March, the city council approved final design plans for the Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park, allowing Foundation volunteers to move forward with improvements to the 2-acre site. The dog park is named after beloved local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, a passionate and proactive leader of veterinary medicine who made a lasting impact on all he encountered. Dr. Cortese's genuine caring for people and animals continues to live on in the first dedicated dog park in San Juan Capistrano.
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