Meet Our Veterinarians
Dr. Michael Matthews
Dr. Michael Matthews was born in Flint, Michigan in 1960 and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology with honors in 1982 at Auburn. He attained his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine with high honors from Auburn in 1986. His special interests are orthopedics, reconstruction and general surgery as well as oncology. He started specialized training in 2009 in knee repair and now performs both tibial tuberosity advancements (TTAs), as well as lateral tie backs for cruciate-deficient knees and patellar luxation.
He made Lake Wales his home in 1986 and is married and raising two daughters. When not at work he enjoys growing orchids and palms, and being a soccer dad, as well as deep sea fishing.
Dr. Thomas Schotman
Dr. Thomas Schotman was born in the Netherlands. The family immigrated to America in 1960 and made Florida their home. The childhood experiences of camping, scouting, fishing, sailing and an interest in herpetology resulted in an early decision to become a veterinarian. After graduation from Satellite High School, the trek to the University of Florida resulted in a Bachelors degree in Animal Science and a Masters degree in Virology. This perseverance finally paid off in a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1981. After a year working for a mixed (mostly large animal and dairy) practice in north Florida, he moved to Lake Wales and joined the Lake Wales Veterinary Hospital. The practice included large and small animals and soon added exotics and wildlife. The initial experience at Circus World evolved into helping a multitude of species from elephants to mice. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and even insects are on the list. While elephants are his favorite, he enjoys the daily experience of helping clients with their pets and helping wildlife. He enjoys time with his children Hannah and Wyatt. Fishing, boating and outdoor activities take up any free time.
Dr. Greg Cooper
Dr. Cooper was born in Mt. Clemens, MI. His family moved to Alabama in the late 1950's before he was a year old due to his father's work with the space program. He grew up in Huntsville, AL and attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville for his undergraduate work and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1982. Always having a love for animals, Dr. Cooper pursued his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian and received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Auburn University with honors in 1987. Dr. Cooper enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine but eventually gravitated to small animal exclusive practice. His interests are in internal medicine and surgery. Dr. Cooper has worked in a variety of practices during the 911 era caring for the military working dogs and pets at multiple bases and oversaw food safety for 2 Navy bases. He received the Army Commendation Medal for outstanding service.
Dr. Cooper's wife has been a special education school teacher for the past 25 years. She graduated from the University of Alabama so there is quite the rivalry come football season! Their son Cameron is in college at Warner University. Their pets include a toy poodle named JoJo and a cat named Annie. When not working or at the ballpark watching their son play baseball, the Coopers enjoy other outdoor activities, watching college and professional sports, going to movies, etc.
Dr. Jennifer Waltman
Dr. Jennifer Waltman is a native Floridian, born and raised in Highlands County. In 1996 she graduated with honors from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biological Science. Her grandfather graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in the 1950s so she set out to follow in his footsteps. She reached her goal and graduated with her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn in 2000. Her grandfather was lucky enough to participate in her graduation ceremony despite his failing health. After graduation she returned to Central Florida to practice small animal medicine. She soon met her husband and they have been married since 2004. She has two children, a girl and a boy, who keep her busy at home. She joined LWVH in 2012 in a relief capacity and decided to stay and join the team on a more permanent basis. She enjoys all aspects of small animal medicine and surgery. She grew up with Boston Terriers and added two rowdy puppies to her family in 2010. When not working or raising kids she enjoys going to the movies, playing games and spending time with her large extended family.
Dr. Brooke Dowling
Dr. Brooke Dowling grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science and Master’s degree in Animal Science. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Tennessee in 2013 but managed to always remain a die-hard Gator fan. After graduation from vet school, she soon returned home to Florida and started living her childhood dream of practicing veterinary medicine. Her interests include internal medicine, dermatology and surgery.
In her free time, you will most likely find Dr. Dowling fishing, spending time with her family (including two dogs, Cole and Luci), as well as watching Gator football and basketball or a Lightning hockey game. She enjoys traveling and has set a goal of taking one new trip every year. Dr. Dowling enjoys getting to know people and their pets, and is committed to the health and well-being of every patient.
Dr. Sarah Chinault
Dr. Sarah Chinault was born and raised in Polk County, Florida. Sarah worked as a veterinary technician at the Lake Wales Veterinary Hospital before vet school and is excited to rejoin our staff as an associate veterinarian! Sarah enjoys working with pet owners and is looking forward to assisting longtime and new clients of our hospital to keep pets healthy and happy. Dr. Chinault has a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a Master’s degree in soil and water science from the University of Florida. After completing graduate school, Sarah worked as an environmental scientist for several years before deciding to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. She is a proud graduate of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and completed her clinical year at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Chinault’s clinical interests include endocrine disease, cardiology, and orthopedics. Four-legged members of Dr. Chinault’s family include 3 Chihuahuas, 1 mini-Dachshund, and 3 mixed breed dogs. Outside of the clinic, Sarah enjoys the beach, reading, and spending time with her dogs.
Dr. Abbe DeGroat
Dr. Abbe DeGroat was born in Philadelphia, PA and was raised in upstate New York. She moved to central Florida in 1999, attending the University of Florida. She graduated UF in 2003 with a Bachelors degree in Animal Science and a Masters in Extension Education in 2006. After having worked with youth in 4—H in Pinellas County, she decided animals were her passion and applied to veterinary school in 2007. She graduated in 2011 with a focus on large animals. After completing an internship at the University of Georgia in 2012, she joined a rural large animal practice in eastern North Carolina. Wanting to be closer to family, she moved to Polk County in 2013 and became the staff veterinarian at Polk County Animal Control. In 2018 she joined Lake Wales Veterinary Hospital as an associate veterinarian. She has been married since 2013 and has 5 dogs, 1 cat, 5 horses, a donkey and 2 goats. She enjoys spending time with her family and her pets.