Longtime East Texas veterinarian retires after 50 years

Co-founder of Tyler Animal Emergency Clinic hangs up his white coat
Dr. Michael Maris retires after 50 years of caring for pets across East Texas.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 9:08 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After 50 years an East Texas veterinarian is saying goodbye to the practice he helped create and the people who’ve become like family.

Dr. Michael Maris has provided decades of care to East Texans and our pets, and some clients aren’t ready to say goodbye.

“What are w going to do? What are we going to do without Dr. Maris?” said David Bolestridge, a longtime client of his.

Dr. Maris is known as the “Bulldog Guru,” a humble, but skilled man, and a staple in East Texas veterinary services.

“I can’t imagine a more fun way to make a living than doing what I’ve been doing for the last 50 years,” said Dr. Maris.

Born and raised in Troup, he’s always seen eye-to-eye with animals. Dr. Maris went on to graduate from Texas A&M specializing in veterinary services. Then, on to working as a partner at the Shelley Drive Animal Clinic in Tyler in 1973.

But Back Then, it wasn’t long before he and other veterinarians in the area realized East Texans needed something more.

“As you know, emergencies don’t happen during business hours,” said Dr. Maris, “we were taking calls every night.”

He became one of the founding members of the Tyler Animal Emergency Clinic In 1986, providing a necessary after-hours service.

Over the years, he’s estimated to have taken care of thousands of dogs and cats. He’s also had a hand in caring for the future of veterinary services.

“We’ve got one new doctor now and she says she just can’t believe he’s retiring either because she says she just hasn’t learned enough yet,” said Sammie Day, who’s worked under Dr. Maris as the Shelley Drive Animal Clinic manager for the last 30 years.

“He’s just been a good friend,” Day said tearfully. “He’s been a mentor to all of us.”

And several of his mentees have gone on to become practicing vets, and future clients.

“They’ll come to visit or we see their animals because, after you work this closely, in this small of building with so many people, you get to be family,” said Dr. Maris.

That’s part of what he says he’ll miss most -- getting to see his colleagues, clients and their pets everyday.

As for his his next act? He says he’s not sure, but Dr. Maris does plan on spending time overseas soon in Germany to see his daughter.