Dr. Dee Thornell is a known name in the world of television veterinarians. She is the host of Animal Planet’s show “Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet.” The show offers a unique look at the challenges and adventures of practicing veterinary medicine in the Alaskan wilderness. On the show, Dr. Thornell was seen providing her veterinary service despite adversity sometimes in the room of a well-equipped facility and other times making house calls in the remotest of Alaska even making journeys by horse, carriage, or on foot.
Deanna Thornell was born on July 29, 1958, in Ohio, United States. She is the youngest of four children from Leonard Thornell and Geraldine Thornell. Her three older siblings are Jerrie, Pam, and Richard Thornell. Her mother was a housewife and a farmer while her father served in the Marine during the second world war and after retirement, he learned tinkering and worked as a mechanism.
Dr. Thornell received her early education in Ohio and during her second grade, she moved to Kalamazoo. However, her city life did not last long. After her older brother, Richard died fighting for the U.S. army in Vietnam her father decided to walk out of city life. Richard was 20 years old when he passed away in 1967. The family then moved to Beulah, a village in Benzonia, Michigan.
Her first home in Benzonia was a motel that her father had recently bought. In the country setting Dr. Thornell was raised free-spirited. Her father would let her wrench, drive tractors, and pound nails the job considered for men. During her village adventure, she grew an affinity towards horses and learned to ride horses. She gained her jockey’s license at the early age of 13.
Dr. Thornell attended Benzie Central High School. She was an excellent student and graduated top of her class. Other than focusing on her academics she was the student council president and originator of the first school store, which sold candy bars and school supplies to earn money for homecoming and library carpet. She received a four-year scholarship for her college education. In order to get into vet school Thronell put in 20 hours a week under former Benzonia veterinarian Russell Wagner. After completion of her bachelor she enrolled at Michigan State University of Veterinary Medicine gaining her DVM degree in 1981.
Career & Progression
After her veterinary degree, Dr. Thornell worked at Waverly Animal Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. In 1982, she came Alaska due to her then boyfriend who asked her to join him. Although the relationship did not last, she ended up staying. During the early years, she worked as a mobile veterinarian riding her pickup truck around Cantwell, Circle City & Delta Junction. In addition to treating animals, she would perform spay and neutering. She later moved into an apartment clinic in the current location in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1996, which is 11,000 square-foot facility consisting of Animal House Veterinary Hospital, Noah’s Ark, and Muttessori School for Dogs.
As a Veterianrian Dr. Thornell has overseen animals likelike dogs, cats, snakes, owls, macaws, eagles, and even occasional wild animals like moose, bear, elephants. Also, she has spayed and neutered over 36,000 animals in the course of her career which has spanned over 40 years.
Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet:
Dr. Thornell doubled down as television veterianrian as she was asked to be the lead cast of Animal Planet reality show “Dr.Dee Alaska Vet.” The show premiered on November 7, 2015 and aired for two seasons util October 1, 2016. The show was not renewed after conclusion of two seasons. During the run-in, Dr. Dee was seen providing veterinary care at her well equipped Animal House Veterinary Hospital in Fairbanks while also taking calls to remote villages in ALaska using a small plane, four-wheeler, horse, carriage or even by foot.
Dr. Dee Thornelll has an estimated net worth of $2.5 Million.
Marriage & Husband:
Dr. Thornell was married to Chuck Sanderson for seven years. Although the first marriage did not last forever it served as a lesson to do one better. After the divorce married her current husband Kenneth Rodriguez. The pair first met in 2005, and exchanged their wedding vows in 2007.
Ken is a commercial pilot operator qualified to fly under instrument flight rules. Ken also convinced Dr. Thornell to take flying lesson and eventually getting a pilot license of her own. Dr. Thornell had her first solo flight on December 7 of 2013. In past, Kenneth worked as head of maintenance for several buildings owned by the State of Alaska.
In 13 years as a married couple, Dr. Thornell and Ken have no children. Meanwhile, Dr. Thornell has a son Jesse James Sanderson from her ex-husband, Chuck Sanderson.
Although many of us will assume Jesse who is in his 20s to follow in her footsteps, it has not been the case. He looks for a career in auto body repair and hopes to open his own shop. In the past, he pushed for a career in motocross racing, but after breaking too many bones, he ended up giving up. Currently he lives in Prescott, Arizona.