Karen Atlas, MPT, CCRT Director of Animal Rehabilitation

Karen is an experienced and licensed human Physical Therapist having graduated with a Masters degree from UC San Francisco/San Francisco State University in 1996. After adopting an injured dog named Teddy, she soon became passionate about applying her therapy skills and knowledge to the canine population. She is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) and successfully completed the program offered through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI)  She was the first certified canine rehab specialist practicing in her hometown of Santa Barbara.   She is and has been the Director of Rehabilitation at HydroPaws Animal Rehabilitation and Performance Center since 2009.  Karen and HydroPaws are accepted providers of education for the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI) as they are approved as an internship site for the completion of the canine certification program.  Most recently, she was invited to join the faculty at the Canine Rehabilitation Institute and team taught the Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation in Broomfield, Colorado.

Karen's passion for knowledge and education to advance the field of canine rehab has been the impetus to start Atlas Rehabilitation for Canines (ARC)  ARC serves to fill a glaring void of educational opportunities on the West Coast for advancing the skills of already certified professionals and bringing them together from around the world to educate and collaborate.


Dave Dawson, DVM

Dr. Dawson graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. Along with his successful and award-winning San Roque Pet Hospital, Dr. Dawson had the vision and saw the need to expand into physical rehabilitation. Together, Karen and Dr. Dawson make up a unique and educated team of animal care specialists who are committed to serving your pet with compassion and expertise.

Jillian Lake, Rehabilitation Coordinator

Jillian has always had a very strong affinity for animals. She grew up in a small town in San Diego County and started riding horses at a very young age. Jillian always hoped of finding a career in which she could combine her love of science and passion for animals. As a member of the HydroPaws team coupled with her recent completion of a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from UCSB, her hopes are now realized. HydroPaws is the perfect place for Jillian to thrive since she can now pour her knowledge, skill and passion into something that she truly cares about. We are so fortunate to have her as a part of the HydroPaws team! Even Jillian’s spare time is spent with dogs, since she is often found training her newest member of her family, a golden/border collie mix named “Packer.”

Alejandra Sanchez, Rehabilitation Assistant

Alejandra grew up locally in the Santa Ynez Valley. She discovered her love for animals at a young age by caring for her family pets, volunteering her time to care taking of domestic animals and admiring their unconditional love.  Her passion for animal care grew as she did.  As time went by, it became apparent that her dream job would be to work with animals. She is currently fulfilling that dream by being part of the HydroPaws team as a Rehabilitation Assistant.  She concurrently is going to school at Santa Barbara City College and is majoring in Biology.  Her two loyal companions are “Maggie”, a Border collie mix and “Cleo”, a German shorthaired pointer. 

Harley Cota, Rehabilitation Assistant

Harley has spent her life growing up around animals. She has always had a kind and nourishing spirit, bringing home any and all strays she could find. Both of Harley's parents worked with horses and ranch dogs.  In fact, even before Harley could walk she was riding horses!  As soon as she was old enough to work, she started working with her mother managing a private ranch/petting zoo with dogs galore. Harley also had the wonderful opportunity to get involved with HydroPaws with one of the dogs from her job, so she soon began learning more and more about animal rehabilitation and found she loved it.  Harley feels her purpose in life is to improve the lives of pets, and she definitely excels at that working at HydroPaws!


Ronnie Steinitz, Rehabilitation Assistant

Ronnie, a veteran Senior Staff Sergeant in the Israeli army, was always determined to work with animals, small and large. After her military service, she spent 8 months backpacking through South America and volunteering at a wildlife refuge in the Amazon basin, tending to a 180 lb female jaguar named Katie. She then pursued a bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Animal Behavior and Evolution, and a Master’s in Biology at UC San Diego, in collaboration with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Her work revolved researching food web interactions of critically endangered iguanas in the Dominican Republic. Ronnie recently relocated to the Santa Barbara area where she discovered HydroPaws and the field of animal rehabilitation. Ronnie's background in biology and great work ethic made her a perfect addition to the HydroPaws team. When not at work, Ronnie is often accompanied by “Gizmo”, her entertaining sidekick, who is a 4-year-old Saluki mix.