Mark was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended the University of Missouri for both his Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and his DVM degree. He worked at a clinic in Laguna Hills before becoming the manager and medical director of the South Orange County Emergency Clinic in Orange County. In 1987 he moved to Vista and purchased Palomar Animal Hospital.
Dr. Handel particularly enjoys ultrasound, internal medicine, dentistry, and soft tissue surgery. He also works closely with animal rescue groups that save unwanted pets from local shelters.
At home, Mark lives with his wife Mary, a retired registered dietitian, three family dogs, and two captive- bred desert tortoises. The dogs are: Bryce, a cattle dog rescued off the side of the road just outside Bryce Canyon National Park , Sammy , a chihuahua/rat terrier who loves every living thing he has ever met, and Chica, a sweet 4 lb. chihuahua who rules over the other dogs. Mark and Mary are very proud of their two adult sons and their careers.
In his spare time, Mark enjoys horticulture, gardening, hiking and golf. In 2013 Mark and friends reached the 14,505 foot summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. One year later, he and his eldest son climbed to the top of half dome in Yosemite National Park. Recent back problems have limited his hiking ability but hopes to resume sometime