In recognition of a more than four-decade-long career dedicated to helping others, veterinarian Laurelle Danton (’83 DVM) was awarded the Washington State University Alumni Association’s most prestigious honor, the Alumni Achievement Award.

“Your dedication to nurturing the profound connection between humans and their beloved pets, especially during those tender moments of the pet’s final journey, represents an extraordinary talent that has given solace to innumerable families grappling with loss,” Lynne Haley, College of Veterinary Medicine’s senior director of development, said during the awards presentation for Danton in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Laurelle Danton holds up WSU Alumni Achievement Award between two people
From Left: Dave Farbrook, Laurelle Danton, Lynne Haley
(Courtesy WSU College of Veterinary Medicine)

Since 2009, Danton has owned and operated Kokopelli Veterinary Care in Edgewood, New Mexico, just outside of Albuquerque. Danton offers house calls and provides much-needed services to clients who may find it difficult to travel.

“I’ve been really lucky to be able to do what I do to help people. I meet wonderful people, and probably the majority of the friends who I have started out as clients,” Danton says.

While Danton offers many services, she specializes in home euthanasia for pets.

“This allows them to be in their special place,” she says. “They’re on their special bed. They’re outside under their favorite tree. I’ve done several at parks. One the dog took his last swim in the pond. Another one all of the friends and their dogs were there to say goodbye.”

Her empathetic approach to the grieving process involves actively listening to pet owners and encouraging them to share joyful memories of their pets’ lives.

Danton has long served her communities, including as a trained volunteer peer counselor from 1996 to 2003 at the El Dorado Women’s Center, where she helped people dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. She also served as a firefighter and emergency medical technician from 1995–97 in California.

The Alumni Achievement Award was established in 1970 to recognize and honor WSU alumni who have served or provided significant contributions to the university or their community, profession, or nation. Since its inception, the award has been presented to more than 550 alumni.


Laurelle Danton shared some of her memories with Washington State Magazine’s Coug Story Corps last summer. Read recollections from her and others.