The Lakeland-based nonprofit veterinary clinic began reaching out to clients on Monday to inform them that their pets’ scheduled surgeries had been canceled. No new surgeries are being scheduled at this time, either in person or on the organization’s website.
Dr. G. Robert Weedon, one of the clinic’s four surgeons, said in a public message on Facebook that May 25 was his last day at TLC PetSnip and that he had resigned along with Director of Surgical Operations Lisa Gray, Executive Director Emily Lorenzano, Medical Director Dr. Michele McCutcheon, and the nonprofit’s board of directors – all of whom stepped down last week.
“The staff at TLC PetSnip will all be out of a job soon. Our medical director is resigning, and with her goes the premises permit (required by law as she is the ‘responsible veterinarian,’) and her DEA certificate (used to order controlled substances), as well as the controlled substances on hand, ordered with that certificate,” Weedon wrote in the post.
“TLC PetSnip will effectively be shut down. Hopefully, down the road, we will all come together and rise from the ashes to form an even better, more effective organization to help the people and pets of Polk County,” he wrote.
Weedon, 68, penned a guest column in The Ledger last month in which he said he had intended to play golf every day after retiring from the faculty of the University of Illinois and moving to Florida. But he soon realized there was a desperate need for veterinary services and started working at TLC PetSnip three days a week sterilizing dogs and cats to prevent pet overpopulation.
TLC PetSnip celebrated the opening of its new Peyton Surgical Center in August 2022 next door to the original medical clinic at 1701 E. Gary Rd. The expansion enabled the organization to perform as many as 300 surgeries each week in addition to seeing nearly 200 pets for medical appointments.
In a message to LkldNow, Weedon blamed the mass exodus on friction with the organization’s founder Terry Sandlak and faulted board members for stepping down instead of forcing Sandlak out.
“The Board, in my opinion, was derelict in their duties by resigning and not standing up to the founder,” Weedon said.
Sandlak did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday, however she did schedule a staff meeting with the remaining employees for Wednesday. The issue of the premises permit and DEA certificate is likely to be a significant hurdle for the organization.
Dr. Tsuyoshi Watanabe said he is a relief veterinarian, coming in only to do surgeries, and is unfamiliar with the operational aspects of the organization. He said he would try to support the organization as long as it needs his assistance, but he added, “I will respectfully reject if the TLC asks to use my DEA certificate as a responsible veterinarian.”
Dr. Adrian Knowles, the newest of the organization’s listed surgeons – who was licensed in Florida in 2021 – could not be reached for comment. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2016 but worked in Texas before joining TLC PetSnip.
Gray, Lorenzano and McCutcheon also did not respond to requests for comment.
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