Support Center of Lap of Love
Our Veterinary Care Coordinators are there to help, offering guidance and support for one of the hardest phone calls that we, as pet parents, may ever make. You are not alone - we are here for you every day of the week to coordinate and assist you every step of the way.
Alex moved to Florida from her hometown, Ellington, MO in 2014 to seek adventure and opportunity. She shares her life with an amazing husband, two dogs- Brodie and Belle, two cats- Regina and Romeo and a baby on the way! Alex’s hobbies include spending time with her family (near and far), eating tacos, cooking and traveling.
Alex graduated from the Veterinary Technician Program at Jefferson College in Hillsborough, MO in 2011. She had the opportunity to work in large animal, small animal and also exotic practices.
Alex realized that she wanted to be a part of Lap of Love in 2016 when a fellow employee brought the company to her attention. She had always found humane euthanasia and quality end of life care to be such a blessing and have such a huge impact on the human-animal-bond. Alex wanted to be able to utilize her empathy, knowledge and compassion on an advanced level, and to be able to make a difference.
Angie is originally from Kentucky. She relocated to Pensacola FL in 2000 and has called this her home ever since. Angie began working in the veterinary technician field in 2003 and found her calling - helping animals. Angie has two cats - Latte and Romeow. Her free time is spent with her daughter who is a natural born animal lover like her Momma. Angie was drawn to Lap of Love while working in a veterinary clinic and seeing the need for excellent end of life care for our beloved companions.
Ashley is the proud mom of two amazing yet crazy pups. Lotus, a Black Lab/Basset mix, and Lucy a Black Lab/Boxer mix. She has never known a day without the love and companionship of her fur friends. The day Ashley was brought home from the hospital as a baby, her dad surprised both her and her mother with a Vizsla puppy named Max. He was her best friend/brother for the first 15 years of her life, and will forever be the gold standard for how important the human-animal bond is. She was fortunate enough to grow up with loving parents who indulged in her need to adopt every stray fur baby she could lure into her home with that infamous phrase “can we keep him?” Ashley now feels an incredible sense of honor to share her love and compassion with families as they journey through this delicate process with their truly beloved companions.
Bethany joined Lap of Love in 2017 after a little over a decade as a veterinary assistant in general and emergency practice. She loves all species, but is "mom" to 3 pit bull mixes, several cats, and her true love, bunnies! She is a proud born-and-raised Floridian, and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors degree in Social Work. In her free time, she loves volunteering with local rescues, reading, listening to podcasts and music, and being silly! She is happy to be back in the Bay area after exploring Florida for the last ten years.
Brian grew up in Gainesville and graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Criminal Justice. He worked as a police officer in Gainesville before meeting his wife. Growing up Brian’s family had German Shepherds and while a policeman he used to volunteer with the K9 unit as a “bad guy” wearing a bite suit. In 1998 he changed careers and moved to Tampa to be with his wife. They now have 2 teenage daughters and a Border Collie named Dyson (after the vacuum cleaner because he picks up everything). Between working 2 jobs and the demands of family life Brian does not have the time he would like for hobbies but he makes time to play Frisbee with Dyson whenever he can.
Camila was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. Her family is originally from Lima, Peru. Camila graduated with her BS in Health Sciences in May of 2016 with a minor in Public Health from the University of South Florida. She one day aspires to become a veterinarian and own her own practice. She looks forward to her future endeavors and continuing education. Camila has loved animals from an early age and currently owns a sassy bunny by the name of Truffle. Camila started her journey with the Lap of Love family in August of 2017. She believes that supporting families and their furry loved ones at one of the most heartbreaking of times can be the biggest factor in helping people through their grieving, and ultimately healing, process.
Cheryl is a mother of three daughters, Sarah, Maria and Rose, and four fur babies, including two Chihuahuas, Tony and Penny Lane, a black Lab, Lilly, and a cat, Smokey. She lives in Oldsmar, Florida, very close to Old Tampa Bay, where she strolls with her furry loves every evening. Having been raised in the military, it has always been a passion of hers to nurture and care for animals where ever in the world she happened to live. As a child, when other little girls were pushing dolls in their baby buggies, she was strolling around with kittens and puppies, and the occasional frog in hers! She was working as a Paralegal in a law office when she met Dr. Dani. When she learned about Lap of Love, and how she could help families and their precious babies, she knew this was her calling, and she left her legal career behind. As someone who has always had a passion for animals and their welfare, she feels this is her contribution to help prevent pain and suffering from occurring in them, and to help bring them and their families peace.
Cristina was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She has been happily married to Robert since 2008 and has a handsome little boy, Noah. She has been in the animal-medical field since 2001, working for an animal emergency clinic. She met Dr. Dani and Lap of Love in 2014. It is so rewarding to be able to help families and their companion animals through such a difficult time in their lives. She couldn't have asked for a greater honor.
Born and raised in the Sunshine State, Dana treasured growing up surrounded by nature. She remained there for college and earned her M.A. in English from the University of South Florida. She spent three summers studying literature at the University of Cambridge in England. Her humanities education fostered sympathy for and an understanding of the world as an interconnected whole; this background has been vital to her growth, both personally and professionally, first as an educator and now as a care coordinator.
Several years ago, Dana began volunteering to help homeless animals after adopting an adorable beagle/basset mix from a local rescue. She currently has four rescue dogs--two Shiba Inus (Roz and Hayate) and two beagles (Max and Jimmy). She and her husband met at the local dog park, where their Shiba Inus became fast friends and ultimately their matchmakers. When not working, she enjoys participating in her local dog park community and going on fun adventures with her crew, most recently to the beach. Her hobbies include photographing pets and rediscovering Florida.
She is honored to be part of the Lap of Love family, which she joined on the one year (to the day) anniversary of her beloved senior beagle Rusty's passing. She considers this opportunity to help families to be a wonderful means of further commemorating her sweet boy and their unshakable bond.
Donna was born and raised in Tennessee. As a child she lived on a farm where she learned to love and appreciate animals. She spent most of her time with her horse "Bo", at Dressage expositions. She is married and has two grown children and three wonderful grandchildren. Prior to coming to Lap of Love she was a middle school, Language Arts teacher and an Elementary School Principal, both very rewarding careers. She is looking forward to continuing to make a difference in people's lives at Lap of Love. As a person who deeply cares about people and animals she feels very blessed to be able to partner with all the very loving, caring people at Lap of Love. She is deeply impressed with the passion of the Doctors and the dedication of the support center team. She believes together they can provide families with a gentle, compassionate end of life experience for their furry babies. She considers it an honor to be a part of Lap of Love.
Erin was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. Growing up she developed a great love for horses and dogs that she still treasures today. Growing up she enjoyed spending time in the barn caring for her horses, taking lessons, showing, and being a member of the United States Pony Club. Her love for dogs began with Little Bit the long hair dachshund. The pair first met when Erin was 3 years old and Little Bit was 3 months old, it was love at first sight. Little Bit lived a beautiful life to the old age of 21. She was truly a life long friend that will always be in Erin’s heart. Shortly after Little Bit passed Erin adopted Jake a handsome pit mix. He is an alliance therapy dog who brings happiness and joy to everyone he meets.
Erin attended the University of South Florida where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. She is also a PATH, International Certified Therapeutic Instructor and dedicates her free time to the equine assisted therapeutic riding field at local therapeutic facilities.
Jacquelin was born in Arlington, TX but has lived in the Tampa, FL area most of her life. She has had a love for animals her entire life and has worked with Lost Angels Animal Rescue for over 10 years helping with administrative functions as well as fostering dogs of all breeds from Pitbulls to JRT's. Jacque has several dogs and a cat, all rescued and added a human baby boy to her pack in 2016. She recently left her career as an Accountant to join the Lap of Love family.
Jennifer is mom to a beautiful Cocker Spaniel named Tucker and he is the love of her life. He's an only child so he is spoiled beyond belief. Jennifer is a Tampa native but currently resides in Fort Myers, FL where she is in school full time majoring in Software Engineering. After graduation, she hopes she can put her skills to use within Lap of Love because she loves everything Lap of Love stands for and hopes to be a part of it for years to come. Animals are her passion and one day she plans on having a diverse household full of rescues. Jennifer is thankful that she can help bring a little peace of mind to families in need of help for their furry loved ones.
Jen is a lifelong animal lover and a veterinary technician since 2001. During her veterinary career she had the opportunity to work in private practice, emergency, and non-profit hospitals. She was very excited to begin helping families at Lap Of Love in February 2017.
Josue is a passionate servant at heart. He strives to learn about life on a daily basis to grow continuously through every experience. Being a student, his goal is to obtain his bachelor's degree in International business and further his education in Pharmacy or Psychology. He is driven by the motivation to succeed and to help in any way possible. He believes that working with excellence and showing care to things goes a long way. Josue is a very spiritual person that believes that love conquers all odds. He believes that through life, in every situation there is a way to achieve peace and prosperity. Josue loves to sing, dance and cook because it brings joy to the people around him. Josue also enjoys the finer things that life has to offer and tends to wine and dine and shop too much. He loves sharing his heart with people that are broken and looking for validation during hard times. It makes him feel whole, and brings a level of fulfillment knowing that his voice transcends peace over people's lives during difficult times. His love for animals enhances his connection with each family that calls in. Josue feels blessed to have found such a wonderful place to work and share his time as he grows and learns about life.
Julia Penner-Zook was born in Canada, but has lived most of her adult life in the US or Europe. She has a Master’s degree in Theology, is a published author, translator and editor. She also holds a certification in life coaching. Julia is married and has 2 adult children and 5 vivacious grandchildren. She has had furry family members frequently throughout her life. Most recently, she was Mom to a Maltese rescue, Scooter, who won hearts wherever he went. In September, two wonderful Lap of Love veterinarians helped ease Scooter to the Rainbow Bridge. This was a profoundly difficult but heartwarming experience. It was this experience that nudged her to find a niche in this wonderful organization. When not pursuing one of several lines of work, she loves to spend time with family and friends, run, read and bake pies!
Karin was born and raised in the hustling and bustling Washington D.C. area. The sunny beaches and sparkling waters called her name all the way to Tampa Bay where she completed her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology at the University of South Florida. Having always been the resident "cat lady" with her friends and family, she followed her passion into a career in veterinary medicine. She has worked in animal shelters and general practice. Her love of caring for animals led her to Lap of Love where she focuses on assisting families through the end of life journey for their companions. Karin shares her home with a pair of chihuahuas and three of the finest felines a gal could ask for. Karin often says that without them, her home would be clean but her heart would be empty!
Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Florida and loves the sunshine state. She is the president and co-founder of Lost Angels Animal Rescue and has fostered and adopted out many dogs since 1999. She currently specializes in older hospice dogs and shares her home with many. She has two grandchildren Gracie and Coleson and loves to spend as much time with them as possible.
Laurie was born and raised in Pinellas county, Florida where she continues to live with her husband of over 20 years, their two handsome teenage sons, 4 cats and 1 dog. Laurie has worked as a Certified Veterinary Technician in private practices dealing with exotic pets, at the county animal shelter and as an adjunct instructor for St. Petersburg College's Veterinary Technology program. Laurie has long been a proponent of debunking myths about shelters and talking openly with others about euthanasia in a positive light rather than with the usual knee jerk reaction that euthanasia is "bad." While moderating lectures for a local veterinary conference, Laurie crossed paths with Dr. Dani and Lap of Love and has been on the sidelines cheerleading for this fabulous service ever since. She knew then that it was only a matter of time before she would join this wonderful group of caring, compassionate people to assist owners in granting their fur babies the gift of a peaceful, dignified passing. When not working, Laurie enjoys spending time with family, traveling the country, reading and watching movies.
Lisa joins Lap of Love after recently graduating from University of South Alabama College of Nursing. She lives with two cats, two dogs, and one love bird. She loves working with people and with animals. The most rewarding part of working with Lap of Love families is knowing they receive the most compassionate and gentle care from our doctors. Being part of such a supportive group of animal lovers and knowing families entrust us with their most precious gift, their beloved companion pet, is a great honor for Lisa.
Mary was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland and earned her Degree in Veterinary Nursing from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in London, England. Having worked for veterinary practices in Europe and the United States, Mary developed a unique perspective and empathy in helping pet owners to cope with and resolve issues on their journey of loss and remembrance.
She and her husband have traveled extensively throughout the world and embraced the many different cultures, traditions and customs they encountered. The sunshine and moderate temperatures of Florida were irresistible and Tampa became home in 2009.
Melanie Pinel, DVM ~ Support Center
Dr. Mel was born and raised in Texas and developed a love for animals very early on. She was known to bring home stray cats, turtles, frogs, baby birds, and the occasional snake or two (much to her mother’s dismay). She fell in love with pets of all varieties and began her pursuit of a career in veterinary medicine during high school. She attended Harding University in Searcy, AR for her undergraduate degree and received a B.S. in Biology. She then made the move to Oklahoma State University for her first year of veterinary school before transferring to Texas A&M University to complete her veterinary degree. She earned her DVM from Texas A&M in 2006 and then completed a one year small animal medicine and surgery internship at a private practice in Colorado. It was there she met her husband, also a veterinarian, and together they moved to Minnesota and then Florida while he pursued residency training. Dr. Mel was able to practice in both small animal general practice as well as emergency medicine during this time, which helped to broaden her perspective and also reinforce her belief that compassionate end of life care is absolutely essential and deserved for every pet. In 2012, she and her husband welcomed their first child, followed by a second in 2014. During this time she elected to take a step back from veterinary medicine in order to focus on caring for her children. She has enjoyed every minute of being able to be home with them, but is also very excited and privileged to have been given the opportunity to return to helping pets and their people. In addition to a wonderful husband and two beautiful children at home, Dr. Mel also has a very naughty French Bulldog, an Australian Shepherd mix who she believes is the best dog in the whole world, a gregarious, but stubborn cat, and an incredibly entertaining flock of 6 chickens. In her spare time, she loves sewing, hiking, gardening, reading, and yoga. She is honored to try and help pets and their families when they are at the end of the road they have travelled together.
Rachel was born in Newport News, Virginia. Her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia when she was 13 years old. Rachel obtained her Associate’s in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology from Gwinnett Technical College in 2003, and worked as an RVT primarily in a small animal clinic while in Georgia. Rachel, her husband, and newborn (at the time) son moved to Tampa, Florida in 2011, where her husband is originally from. Rachel first heard about Lap of Love working at a clinic in Tampa, and later, from fellow employees. Rachel decided she wanted to make a positive impact in the lives of fellow pet parents. Rachel has 2 dogs - Louie and Scruffy, and 1 cat - Zelda.
Rita fell in love with animals in her early childhood. She stems from a large family and often finds refuge in the calming presence of her pets. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and currently has a blind bird, along with 2 other birds, 2 cats and her beloved horse. Rita has devoted her career to working with animals and has spent much of her time expanding her knowledge to help pets and their families. She has a degree in Public Relations and is currently pursuing a Master's degree. Whenever Rita gets a chance she loves taking road trips to explore other states and to embrace her adventurous side.
Growing up as the daughter of an army soldier Rose’s family moved very frequently. At a young age, while stationed in Germany, she got her first family dog named Becky. She was a chow/lab mix and they all fell in love. Becky followed her family back to the states where they acquired several other pets including hamsters and a rabbit. Becky lived a long and beautiful life in which she was very much loved when she passed away at the age of 16. Shortly after she lost her sweet girl Rose moved to Tampa for college where she adopted her two babies Vito, a Chihuahua, and Layla, a rat terrier. They are the light of her day!
Rose attended the University of South Florida where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, emphasis on clinical psychology and research methods. Rose loved clinical psychology for the ability to comfort and ease someone in distress. She feels that this background significantly impacts her understanding and compassion for families with geriatric or ailing pets. Her love for animals has always been a huge part of her, and with Lap of Love she is able to combine a love for animals with grief counseling and comforting families. Rose feels it is an honor and a privilege to work with the Lap of Love veterinarians. They amaze her every day with their compassion and nurturing spirits.
Sarah Van Trees
A native Texan, Sarah has always been fascinated by animals, and plenty of them were always around! Growing up, she enjoyed the company of dogs, hamsters, gerbils, snakes, and lizards and also loved to go horseback riding. Sarah graduated with a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and earned her master's degree in music therapy from Texas Woman's University. She worked as a music therapist in human hospice in Naples, Florida before moving to Tampa. Sarah is thrilled to be a part of the Lap of Love family, where she feels honored to combine her passion for exceptional end of life care and her love of animals and their people!
Shanan was born and raised in South Florida. She has worked as a Veterinary Technician, both for a mobile vaccine clinic and a non-profit organization. In addition to her passion for animals, Shanan has a great appreciation for the outdoors and enjoys hiking and taking adventures in nature. She stays active through practicing yoga, and more recently with Acrobalancing. Her creativity extends to designing and making handbags. Shanan is also a certified Esthetician.
A dedicated and vigilant cat mom, she has three rescue girls named Kali, Molly, and Squee. Her beloved kitty boy Boots, whom her family rescued from a local park and who had her heart from the moment her mother placed him on her chest, passed away after a good life of 16 years in 2013. His passing gave Shanan a better appreciation for the heartbreak that families experience when losing their pets.
Sharon Weatherspoon, DVM
Born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Sharon attended Hampton University for her undergraduate degree, and double majored in Public Relations and Business Management. She continued her educational pursuit at Tuskegee University where she received her Master’s of Science in Food and Nutritional Science. She continued her Doctoral education at Tuskegee University and graduated as a veterinarian.
Sharon wanted to become a veterinarian for as long as she could remember. Her parents did not want a pet, and so she was not allowed to bring any into the home. Every Christmas and birthday that passed, she begged for a little furry friend. She received every stuffed animal money could buy, her parents even going as far as to give her a toy dog to walk and feed. Although her parents tried everything to appease the desire, they finally realized their antics weren’t working. Eventually, she was told if she received straight A’s, she could get a dog.
Report card, after report card went by and she would get A’s with that one dreaded B. After YEARS of just falling short, she made it to the state science fair. Sharon’s parents were so proud of her finishing in the top 3 that they finally caved and allowed her to get a dog.
She was elated! Skype was adopted from the humane society. She was Sharon’s life and was loved with all her heart. It was then that Sharon knew she had to become a vet. She knew it was her calling to make sure Skye never felt pain, and if she ever got sick, to be there to make her feel better like she did so many times for her human. It is Sharon’s firm belief that helping animals is not just a passion it is also a blessing.
Shelley grew up on Vancouver Island, Canada and moved to the States when she married the love of her life Kory. Shelley has lived in Florida for the last 5 years and is proud to call Tampa her home. She has a beautiful German Shepherd named Deja that she loves fiercely and was rescued in 2015. After working in a law office and lending company, she found her passion working with animals. Shelley has lived and worked in animal hospitals located in California, Maryland, and Florida. She first discovered Lap of Love when she had to make that painful decision to say goodbye to her Siamese kitty Sam in 2014. Shelley was struck with how compassionate and loving each person that she came into contact with was. She is so grateful to pay that kindness forward to other families who are struggling to make the same decision.
Stephanie was born and raised in Georgia and lives outside of Atlanta with her husband Eddie and their fur babies. She is the proud dog mom of three amazing dogs who are center of her world; a Pomeranian, Dolce, a Doberman, Odin and a Yokie/Maltese mix, Stella. Growing up she learned what it truly meant to love all animals and personally knows how difficult and heartbreaking it is to make the decision to say goodbye to a part of your family. Stephanie had always hoped to find a way to express her passion for animals in a way that would benefit them and their loving families. So when she was offered a position at Lap of Love in 2017, she followed her dream and jumped at the opportunity, leaving her career in International Logistics behind. She is blessed to help bring peace to families who are suffering and is inspired daily by the passionate individuals whom she works with.
Tina was born and raised in upstate NY, then married and moved to Vermont in 1985. Tina and her husband Ron made Florida their home in August of 2015. Tina has 3 children, Todd, Jay and Honey Rose, 4 grandchildren, Kyra, Ryan, Taleah and Malina. She also has three fur-babies: Mama Dog, Bubby and Scrunt (all rescues). In 2011 she started a 501c3, Emma's Foundation for Canine Cancer (In loving memory of her yellow lab, Emma who was lost to mandibular osteosarcoma). Her foundation provides financial assistance to dog owners who cannot afford the cancer treatment for their beloved pet. Her desire is to make a difference for these animals and for the people who love and need them.
Valerie has been with Lap of Love since 2011. She is a huge family, friends and animal lover. Her personal motto is “Pets are family too, they make us better people.” Her interests are happiness, smiling daily, positive thinking and gratitude for each breath she takes. Her hobbies include her kids (fur included) and her “hubby.” Her social life is their social life.
Victoria was born and raised in VA, and moved down to Florida to finish her college education. She is currently in pursuit of a Bachelors in Biomedical Sciences and plans to go on to medical school. She has worked with large animal rescue organizations, and has been a four legged foster mom since 2012. She foster failed and ended up adopting three gorgeous cats. She shares her life with a beautiful little girl. When she is not fostering, volunteering, in school, or working, she loves to play with her daughter, read, and go to the park. One of the things that drew her to Lap of Love was the opportunity to help others go through the heartbreaking process of letting a fur baby pass peacefully. Having been through the process several times before, she found her calling in guiding others.