Lake Wales Veterinary Hospital

Meet Our Veterinarians

Owner Veterinarian (Michael Matthews)

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 made Lake Wales his home in 1986 and is raising two daughters, Kennedy and Sophia. When not at work he enjoys spending time in his greenhouse, landscaping, deep sea fishing and spending time with his daughters.

Owner Veterinarian (Thomas Schotman)

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. Waltman

Dr. Jennifer Waltman

Associate Veterinarian

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. Dowling

Dr. Brooke Dowling

Associate Veterinarian

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. Chinault

Dr. Sarah Chinault

Associate Veterinarian

Dr. Sarah Chinault was born and raised in Polk County, Florida. 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, Dr. Chinault 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 interests include the human-animal bond, ultrasound, internal medicine, and soft tissue surgery. Dr. Chinault is Human Animal Bond Certified and is working on becoming Fear-Free Certified. Dr. Chinault's favorite part of veterinary medicine is the bond between owners and their pets and her goal is to help clients and their pets have the best life possible. Dr. Chinault loves Chihuahuas because of their giant ears and sassy attitudes. Dr. Chinault has 8 dogs (4 Chihuahuas, 4 mixed breeds). Dr. Chinault's hobbies are taking care of her dog pack and makeup.


Dr. Abbe DeGroat

Associate Veterinarian

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.

Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our expert veterinarians here in Lake Wales.

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