You know that warm glow you get after talking to certain persons? Well, veterinarian Mike Dunn has that effect on people — you walk away smiling. But there’s a multiplier in effect here — he also has the healing powers of a knowledgeable veterinarian and the bedside manner of Mother Teresa. And … he’s funny.
Dunn has won the Best of Marathon vote for best veterinarian for the last gazillion years. He is loved by staff, clients and animals — a wild juggling act.
The year 2018 marks Dunn’s 20th anniversary at Keys Animal Hospital in Marathon. He works alongside semi-retired Dr. Rob DeField and full-timer Dr. Kyle Maddox.
Full name? Michael Joseph Dunn
Where were you born and raised? Watertown, New York. That’s practically Canada, and equidistant from Ottawa and Toronto.
Where did you go to school? I did my undergraduate work at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Then I did my master’s degree at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Is it true that it’s harder to get into veterinarian school than medical school? Yes. There are fewer veterinarian schools in the U.S.
What was your other career choice? Engineering. I would be an excellent demolitions expert. Or some kind of career where I can have a moustache that looks good; perhaps professional bowler or adult film star.
What is explosive of choice? Tannerite. You can shoot it with a gun and it explodes. We have a bunch up at the cabin.
Your family owns a cabin in upstate New York. This fall you are taking a few of your buddies with you. What should they bring and what should they leave at home? Inhibitions and morals at home. Just bring warm clothes and booze.
When did you know you wanted to be a veterinarian? Oh, since I was 7 years old. Put it this way — if there was a crowd of people and a crowd of animals, you would always find me with the animals.
How did you come to the Keys? Well, it was 1998, before the age of the Internet. Back then, job listings were sent to Cornell. It turned out that I answered one that was four years old, but Rob (Dr. Defield) was still looking to fill a position. When I showed up, Rob wasn’t even here!
Then what happened? Well, it was actually Rob’s plan. He knew that if I didn’t get along with the staff there was no position here for me. So he gave the staff some money to take me out to eat and to bars. I passed that audition. Later I had an interview with Rob, but I’ve always thought that was a smart way to conduct an interview.
Is that how you hired Dr. Kyle Maddox? Kind of. He spent the morning with the staff and then my wife, Catherine took him to lunch. But I knew I liked him right away.
How many pets do you have? Nine.
How many species? Four.
How many children? Four. Ella, Jack, Violet and Charley.
Are you the only man in Marathon married to a Disney princess? Yes.
You got any side gigs? Yes I work with Dolphin Research Center, The Turtle Hospital and some of the Key deer veterinarian issues. I am moving more in this direction as some of the professionals like Dr. Doug Mader move toward retirement.
What’s the most interesting case you’ve treated in Marathon? One day in 2004 I heard screaming in the front office. I came in to find two huge guys yelling because their 150-pound mountain lion had jumped out of the rented convertible on the 7 Mile Bridge because he saw a bird. It had a bad case of road rash. It took some time to calm the owners and the cat.
You have four kids with your wife, how did you settle on the number? Well, I wanted two and Catherine wanted 10, so we compromised.
What is the guiding principle of your work? I want to take care of every animal. I have gotten a lot of breaks — scholarships and community support. To me, that means I have to give back to the community. I want animals to receive the quality care that they deserve.
Has your life ever been in danger? There have been several run-ins with bulls. In vet school, we were treating a baby rhino for a hernia. My job was to keep the momma from killing everyone. The sedation was tricky. If she decided she was awake enough she could’ve trampled everyone. Needless to say…
Other than humans, what was the strangest animal you have ever treated? Squirrels, hedge hogs, mountain lions. Strangest was the coatimundi – South American raccoon. Showalter has brought in some weird stuff – like a sasquatch.
If you could fight anyone alive or dead, who would it be? Gandhi, because he looks tough. And I am pretty sure he was mean to animals. Maybe Chuck Norris.
What would happen to you if you phone fell into the wrong hands? Someone would get an awful lot of emergency calls because it would be going off all night long.
How many emergency calls a day? Three to five per day. Mostly diarrhea because dogs eat rotting stuff all the time. I am a fecal specialist. “A clinically depressed fecalpheliac on Prozac.
Huge South Park fan, huh? Yes. Why do you think I hired Dr. Kyle? For the jokes.
What was the last book you read? “Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King.
Last movie (without Disney in the opening crawl)? “Dumb and Dumber.” Watched it the other night. Last movie I saw in the theater was “Star Wars” (with Jason).
One person, alive or dead, you would like to have a beer with? Elvis. I would like to hear some stories from that bastard.
You are a fan of the crude text messages. Who gives you the most material? Sam Stephens (Shelia Cook’s son). Chuck Lindsey is a close second.
What is Mike Dunn going to be doing in 20 years? Cutting back to 60 hours a week to put my four kids through college. Spending the weekends in the Bahamas.[Publisher’s Note: “I am not sure Sara is going to let me use all this.” Mike Dunn: You wish Trump had someone like Sara to look out for him.”]