"Dr.Dee: Alaska Vet" Chronicles a Modern-day Medicine Woman who Knows No Boundries when Caring for the Animals of The Last Frontier

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29 October 2015
Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet
Photo: Courtesy of Animal Planet
"Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet"
Premieres Saturday, November 7 at 9:00pm ET/PT on Animal Planet

         From traveling across glaciers and mountains to enduring sub-zero temperatures and endless days without daylight, there is no more challenging place to be a veterinarian than Alaska. Despite myriad challenges and risks, Dr. Dee Thornell made it her life’s mission to care for the wild and domestic animals of America’s largest state - no matter what. Animal Planet’s new series DR. DEE: ALASKA VET chronicles her single-minded dedication to treat the animals of the Land of the Midnight Sun even if she needs to learn to fly a plane to reach them. The eight-episode series premieres on Saturday, November 7th at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet.

          A quirky former Midwesterner, Dr. Dee left the lower 48 more than 25 years ago and never looked back. After starting her veterinary business out of a pick-up truck, she now owns and operates Animal House, the most sophisticated veterinary hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. Animal House isn’t your typical animal hospital. On any given day, you’ll find Dr. Dee and her staff treating a variety of animals that rarely appear on most vets’ patient list - bald eagles, owls, chinchillas, beavers, iguanas, ox, moose and bears – that often requires her to leave the high-tech luxuries of her Fairbanks’ clinic and rely on the bare necessities in these remote villages.

          With gold miners, truckers and off-the-gridders as some of her clients, she knows humans in Alaska rely on their animals for survival and companionship. As a result, Dr. Dee frequently navigates the toughest terrain and inclement weather in the most remote areas by plane, four wheelers or even a horse and carriage to care for them. Although extremely difficult - she’s experienced everything from frozen vaccines to frostbite during surgery, and she loves every second of it.

          “Dr. Dee epitomizes our belief that there is no separate animal and human world. She literally travels to the end of the earth in her effort to care for creatures domestic and wild. Dr. Dee's authentic compassion and unwavering passion for the care of animals is at the core of a compelling vet series. It's also what is at the core of Dr. Dee Thornell," said Rick Holzman, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Animal Planet. “Whether it's navigating the continent's most treacherous terrain over air, land and water; or taking on personal risk to treat her patients, you won't find a vet more dedicated to the animals she treats than Dr. Dee.”

          In the premiere season of DR. DEE: ALASKA VET, Dr. Dee checks on a team of sled dogs to make sure they are ready for glacier work as well as a black bear that has come out of hibernation. She also castrates a drove of piglets for a rookie farmer, and a reindeer with a bizarre case of antler growths gets the treatment it needs. Dr. Dee also experiences the biggest challenge of her career when a loyal client calls on her to spearhead a dangerous rescue effort using a helicopter to save his beloved horse, which was injured during an expedition. Working through her non-profit, Golden Heart Pet Assistant League, Dr. Dee routinely flies to remote villages to treat both companion and livestock animals for Alaskans who have no other access to veterinary care.

          Working alongside Dr. Dee in the clinic is Dr. Terry Wighs, a fellow Midwesterner who fell in love with Alaska while he conducted a four-year study on reindeer; Nicole, the compassionate hospital administrator; and Dr. Dee’s husband, Ken, a fellow pilot who often accompanies her on house calls. Whether in the clinic or in the field, Dr. Dee and her staff handles extreme cases with care and compassion and know that no critter is off limits at Dr. Dee’s Animal House.

          As true animal lovers, Dr. Dee and Ken have a menagerie at their home including three dogs, three cats, two chickens, a miniature donkey, two Friesian horses and an Arab mare. Dr. Dee is also a general contractor who has built most of her clinics throughout the years and a former Ms. Alaska bodybuilder who owns a carriage company and recently took up the sport of dressage.

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