Dr. Dee Thornell, facts TV show does not tells about this Alaska Vet.

Coming from the time when women were prepared for housewife than a professional job, Dr. Dee Thornell got into the most unlikely of the profession. Even she did not see herself working as a veterinarian in the future. However, life had planned otherwise. Many years later now she is firmly established as Veterinarian and owns an animal health care facility. She also stars on TV in two seasons of the documentary ” Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet.” In this article, we will explore the unheard facts of Dr. Dee Thornell.

The family tragedy opened veterinary doors

Dr. Dee Thornell was close to her older brother Richard (Dickie) and he is source of inspiration for her veterinarian career. The family patriarch and her father Leonard Thornell wanted to see his only son as a veterinary doctor. Like a good son, Richard showed interest in veterinary medicine and would often spend time by the veterinary clinic on the way to his school. Although keen to pursue he was not good in studies especially in maths. Later when the country came calling his former marine father encouraged Richard to join the army. What returned was misery and the sad truth, the death of his only son. Richard died in the Vietnam war in 1967, at the young age of 20.

Dr Dee Thornell
Alaska based veterinarian Dr. Dee Thornell

The little sister who had nothing but love for brother, life turned upside down. One thing positive that came out of tragedy was a wish to fulfill her brothers dream. She said in an interview;“After he died it was something unspeakable that pulled me to the field of veterinary medicine.”

After the death of her Brother, Dr. Thornell was raised in the country setting of Benzonia, Michigan. There she grew her liking towards horses. Her father would buy her horses or any animals as long as she pursued veterinary studies.

Dr. Dee Thornell married for the second time; her current husband is Kenneth Rodriguez

Dr. Thornell’s first husband is Chuck Sanderson. The two were married together for seven years. During the time they had a son Jesse Sanderson. Chuck owned a ranch and Dee helped him around with animals. She learned about hunting and other outdoors from him.

Dr Dee Thornell Alaska Vet Husband
Dr. Dee Thornell and her husband, Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenneth R. Rodriguez is her second husband. They met in 2005 and two years later the couple took the marriage vows in 2007. Kenneth is very supportive and helps her a lot at work. As a licensed pilot he flies her across remote Alaska, he also convinced Dee to take lessons on flying a plane. She finally learned how to fly planes and took her solo flight on December 7, 2013. Dr. Thornell and Ken together built a log cabin in the Hills of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Age is just numbers for lovers

Dr. Dee Thornell was born on July 29, 1958. She is 61 years of age. Judging by the appearance in photos together Kenneth looks younger than Dr. Thornell. However, to tell in the figure, Kenneth is 13 years younger. Kenneth was born on February 11, 1972, which makes him 48 years now.

Dr Dee Thornell and her husband Kenneth Rodriguez
Kenneth Rodriguez(L) and Dr. Dee (R)

Dr. Dee came to Alaska with boyfriend

After Dee graduated from the Michigan State University of Veterinary Medicine in 1981, she was worked at Waverly Animal Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, an emergency room doctor had his residency there. After completion, he started practice in Fairbanks, Alaska and asked if Dee wanted to go along with him, which she did. Dee and her boyfriend came to Alaska in 1982.  And while the relationship did not work and her boyfriend left, Dee ended up staying and eventually opened her Animal health practice.  Currently, she owns and runs an 11,000 square-foot facility which includes Animal House Veterinary Hospital, Noah’s Ark, and Muttessori School for Dogs.

More Facts on Dr. Dee Thornell

  • She was born as Deanna Thornell in Ohio, U.S.
  • She is the youngest of four siblings from her parents
  • When she was ten years of age, she moved from Kalamazoo to Beulah, Michigan with her family.
  • Her first horse name is Tuffy which is buried in her family farm.
  • She attended Benzie Central High School
  • She was Couples Champion for bodybuilding in 1995 and Ms. Alaska in 1996.


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