My father, Dr. C. E. Dee and My uncle, Dr. I. C. Frederickson formed the original Hollywood Animal Hospital (HAH) in 1947 as a small family-run hospital. Since 1950 the hospital has been a Certified Member Hospital of the AAHA. In 1978, the practice moved to the current hospital building, and the adjacent Outpatient Clinic was built in 1996. A 2010 expansion of the hospital brought the square footage up to 20,000. Today, HAH is a large state-of-the art, 24/7 major regional referral centre that is owned and managed by Jon, Larry & James Dee in conjunction with two equal partners, James Herrington and Tommy Sessa (all veterinarians).
My father was the ultimate role model: graduating at the top of his class from Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine while playing guard and captain of the football team; served as veterinary consultant to the Surgeon General’s office with the rank of Brigadier General; served as state veterinarian for the Florida Racing Commission; served as gubernatorial appointee to Florida’s State Board on Veterinary Medicine for 24 years and as president of that group for many years. Lucille, my mother was every bit as influential (Dad died in 1996) to her sons and HAH. To this day, at the ripe young age of 95, she drives herself to work 5 days a week and is the unquestioned hospital matriarch and bookkeeper in conjunction with my sister Barbara (a retired human intensive care nurse). At the suggestion of brother David (an environmental law attorney) the siblings established a $100.000 scholarship in our parents’ names for University of Florida veterinary students.
Brother Larry has been very actively involved in organized veterinary medicine on the state, national and international level for more than 30 years, including president of FVMA, AAHA, WSAVA, ABVP and is currently a candidate for AVMA president-elect. He is a boarded by examination member of ABVP. Brother James is our Chief Financial Officer. In addition, he is one of the founding members of VMG1. Veterinary Management Group 1 was the first of the present 23 VMGs. These groups are under the auspices of VSG, Veterinary Study Groups, of which he has been secretary since its conception. Presently VSG provides management assistance to practices in small animal medicine, feline medicine, emergency medicine, specialty practice, mixed practice, equine practice and a group made up of University practitioners. VMG continues to grow and presently services over 600 practices.
The family has been very fortunate in that each of the veterinary brothers have focused on different opportunities within the profession. Those opportunities have led me to become a boarded surgeon, researcher, author and lecturer. Larry’s focus has been on internal medicine, surgery and organized veterinary medicine, while James has focused on practice management. These opportunities have allowed us to go across the country and around the globe. It would have been exceedingly difficult without the efforts of our boarded partners and associates. The practice currently consists of 22 doctors with a total staff of 129 members.
G.S-S. How, in your family practice did you ‘get the job’ or ‘assume the role’ of being the orthopaedic Surgeon?
Primarily by default I think. In orthopedics in general and especially orthopedics in the elite athlete it is very difficult for you and others to ignore your shortcomings. Hence, you need to seriously improve. In 1967 after having finished a general internship at Washington State I began working with Robert Knowles (a charter diplomate of ACVS) in Miami for two years. I needed an additional source of income to attend the many continuing education courses needed to fill the educational “gaps”. Working days, on call every other night and every other Sunday at the hospital, I was able to take a part time job at the local dog tracks on the off days/nights as either the state/track veterinarian. My father and uncle had raised greyhounds when I was a boy and I had worked as a trainer one summer in Colorado before entering veterinary school at Auburn. So I knew the life style and could ‘walk the walk and talk the talk”.
The following several years were spent in the family practice at HAH before leaving for Colorado State to obtain a masters’ in surgery in 1974. I’ve always had an interest in surgery in general and orthopedics in particular. However my combined 70+ graduate credits (from WSU & CSU) revolved around veterinary and human soft tissue surgery, ophthalmology and radiology. But, I had a strong surgical/scientific base and very little current information was documented/published about injuries in the elite canine athlete in this golden age of greyhound racing. My first relevant paper was in 1976 ACVS boards were achieved in 1977.
One day Bruce Hohn from Ohio State was visiting HAH and commented “Jon you have more of these cases than anyone in the world, could you present these at the AO course in Ohio”? Hence the snowball began to roll and 25+ years later as an AO lecturer, 40+ (publications, book chapters), lectures, a textbook on Canine Sports Medicine & Surgery and charter diplomate status in the American College of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, the rest is history.
G.S-S. I’m aware that you perform most orthopaedic operations and that you have become particularly well known for your work on the lower limbs of dogs and cats. Though you have operated upon a lot of Greyhounds, please describe the difficulties that you may have encountered when you carried that work into other breeds and other species.
No difficulties were encountered in the transition from Greyhounds to other breeds. You learned from the pristine anatomy of the Greyhound and your soft tissue techniques were refined in dealing with the thin skin and associated low fat index. Your physical exams were more precise because of the stellar anatomy and definition of structures in the Greyhound. As an elite athlete the definition of success was at a higher plateau. i.e. walking without a limb was not good enough. Success is defined by wins as second place is not good enough.
A lot of Greyhound surgery involves intra-articular repair of very small bones. These small bones are infrequently injured in the general population, but the same techniques apply to their “smaller bones”
G.S-S. In any of the above métier, did any individuals become your mentors; individuals who have had a significant effects upon your career?
ABSOLUTELY! The two most influential individuals on my career were my father/mother and W.F. “Bill” Jackson. My father/mother were always “there for me” and Bill ignited my enthusiasm for continuous learning more than any other individual. Then there is a long list of significant others along the way: Ben Horelein, Bill Magrane, Wade Brinker, Don Piermattei, Glen Severin, Jacques Jenny, Jack Alexander, Howard Rosen, Dick Rudy, Bruce Hohn, Bill Whittick, Bill DeHoff and Barclay & Theresa Slocum. And because it is “still fun” one has the opportunity to be stimulated by some of the young lions such as: John Dyce, Noel Fitzpatrick, Antonio Pozzi, Massimo Petazzoni and of course my friend Aldo Vezzoni.