Our Veterinarians


Leann Kuebelbeck, DVM, Diplomate ACVS

Surgeon and Practice Owner

Dr. Leann Kuebelbeck, board-certified surgeon, received her veterinary degree from Kansas State University and completed her internship and surgical residency at Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Florida. She then came to Brandon, Florida to co-found Brandon Equine Medical Center, then known as Surgi-Care Center for Horses, in 1995. She became the sole owner of the practice in March 2009. In 2014, she changed the name of the practice to Brandon Equine Medical Center to fully encompass all of the services the practice has to offer. Dr. Kuebelbeck’s professional interests include both orthopedic and soft tissue surgery. Dr. Kuebelbeck was the 2009 President of the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners (FAEP) and serves on the Symposium Committee for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS).

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Dr. Kuebelbeck is also serving a three-year term on the North American Veterinary Conference’s (NAVC) Board of Directors. The NAVC promotes intensive continuing education for veterinarians. In December 2016, Dr. Kuebelbeck was presented with Kansas State University’s Alumni Recognition Award “in recognition of her time and effort devoted to advancing veterinary medicine and for being an exemplary role model for future alumni in a professional and community setting.”

Dr. Kuebelbeck is a self-professed “equine geek” who knew by the age of five that she wanted to become a horse veterinarian, and she never wavered from that goal. She grew up riding in Kansas so of course, she rode Western and quickly fell in love with barrel racing and pole bending. Family economics did not afford the opportunity for extensive showing, but she competed locally as often as possible, and 4-H was an important part of her formative years. Now, a mother herself, Dr. Kuebelbeck gets tremendous joy watching Grace, her six-year-old daughter, ride Lightning, the saintly pony, around the home property. She is hoping to foster a love for barrel racing with Grace, but for now, Cinderella and Rapunzel are winning out! Dr. Kuebelbeck enjoys spending time with her family and participating in outdoor sports. She has completed two Ironman triathlons (Louisville and Kona) and achieved a personal best in the Ironman 70.3 in Lawrence, Kansas in 2010.

You may contact Dr. Kuebelbeck at lkuebelbeck@brandonequine.com.

Ruth-Anne Richter, BSc (Hon), DVM, MS


Dr. Richter received her veterinary degree from the Atlantic Veterinary College on Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1995 after finishing a Bachelor of Science (Hon) degree. Dr. Richter did an equine internship at Mississippi State University, and following a year in private practice, she began a surgical residency at the University of Illinois. She completed her surgical residency and concurrent Master of Science degree in 2000. Since then, Dr. Richter has worked as a staff surgeon at Reid and Associates in West Palm Beach, the Equine Specialty Hospital in Ohio, and East End Equine in Long Island, New York. Dr. Richter joined Brandon Equine Medical Center in 2005 as a staff surgeon. Prior to attending veterinary school, Dr. Richter was farm manager for Christilot Hanson-Boylen, a member of Canada’s Dressage Team. Dr. Richter’s specialties include equine sports medicine, diagnostic imaging⁠—particularly ultrasound⁠—lameness, and surgery.

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She also has an interest in regenerative medicine techniques (stem cells, platelet-rich plasma, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein), and is certified by Vet-Stem®. Dr. Richter recently wrote a book chapter for Current Therapy in Equine Practice, 7th Edition on the use of therapeutic shoes in horses with tendon and ligament injuries.

Dr. Richter is a member of the AVMA, CVMA, AAEP, ISELP (International Society for Equine Locomotor Pathology), and NAVRMA (North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association). Dr. Richter is also a member of the FVMA’s FAEP board of directors. She is certified by Vet-Stem® and is a member of the Vet Stem advisory committee.

You may contact Dr. Richter at rrichter@brandonequine.com.

Michael Maher, DVM, DACVS-LA, CVMMP

Surgeon and Certified Veterinary Medical Manipulation Practitioner

Dr. Michael Maher is a native Floridian who grew up with his three sisters on a small hobby farm in Plantation, Florida. The joys of farm life and growing up with horses left him with no doubt that veterinary medicine was the only path he wanted to travel.

And travel he did! He left the warmth of Florida for Colorado where he earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Colorado State University.

From Colorado, Dr. Maher went to California to intern with Pioneer Equine in Oakdale, California, a practice with a predominantly performance horse clientele that sees approximately 5,700 horses annually. There, he honed his veterinary skills and took a particular interest in surgery, which led him to pursue a surgical residency.

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Adding to his travels and returning to cold winters, Dr. Maher went on to do a three-year surgical residency at Cornell University in upstate Ithaca, NY. While at Cornell, he was a co-investigator looking at the correlation between transesophageal ultrasound findings and recurrent laryngeal neuropathy, and he became proficient at performing transesophageal ultrasound examination of the equine larynx.

Following his residency and not yet deterred by the harsh winters, Dr. Maher accepted a position at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul as a surgeon and clinical instructor of large animal surgery. During his tenure at U.M., he earned the university’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching as well as becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons – Large Animal.

In 2016, after having experienced life in the United States’ central, western, and farthest northern reaches, Dr. Maher joined the Brandon Equine Medical Center team and happily planted his roots back in the warmth of Florida. He continues to add to his skillset, and in 2018, he earned his certification as a Veterinary Medical Manipulation Practitioner licensed to perform Spinal Manipulative Therapy.

Outside of equine veterinary medicine, Dr. Maher enjoys fishing, hiking, and being out on the water.

Dr. Maher can be contacted at mmaher@brandonequine.com.

Melissa Restifo, DVM, DACVIM

Internal Medicine Specialist

Dr. Restifo is a self-proclaimed “barn rat” and has been surrounded by horses since long before she could walk. After spending much of her childhood with her grandparents on the back stretch of a Standardbred race track, in middle school, a move to the country found her neighbors with a herd of Shire draft horses. It wasn’t long before she jumped elbow deep into helping with breeding, showing, and training the Shires, in addition to unknowingly having her love of veterinary medicine cultivated by their owners, a wildlife biologist and a small animal veterinarian.

After completing her undergraduate training at Cornell University, Dr. Restifo completed her veterinary degree, internship, and internal medicine residency at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. During this time, her love of horses kept her anchored firmly in the barn when she wasn’t in the classroom.

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As a student and intern, she took lessons and kept a job as a groom at a busy Morgan show barn, and then as a resident finally found her home (and her heart horse) at three-day eventing stable nearby to the hospital. Because a residency wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Dr. Restifo kept a part time job as night manager of the facility, helping look after the almost 40 show horses that called it home.

Throughout her veterinary training, Dr. Restifo took a keen interest in equine endocrinology, and in addition to making it the focus of her resident research, has also published several articles on the topic, and has been invited to lecture on metabolic diseases of the horse at regional and national meetings. Tufts is also well known for it’s cutting edge research and treatment of horses with equine asthma, which fostered a love of respiratory medicine. Her passion for veterinary medicine has always motivated her to share her knowledge through teaching, and she is well known for her propensity to talk at length about topics like nutrition, exercise physiology, and neonatology, in addition to endocrinology and asthma, with anyone that will listen. For her, client education is among the most rewarding parts of being a veterinarian.

Outside of work, Dr. Restifo still enjoys spending her free time in the saddle, or out on the water boating or fishing with her family. Mostly however, she loves spending time with her daughter, Ruby, who has already caught the horse bug in the form of a pony names Elvis.

Dr. Restifo is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Dr. Restifo’s exemplary knowledge, internal medicine training, amazing work ethic, and dedication to the horse make her a gifted veterinarian who understands and appreciates her clients, their equine partners, and each teams unique needs in veterinary care. Dr. Restifo sees patients in the clinic and on the farm and can be contacted by calling 813-643-7177 or emailing mrestifo@brandonequine.com.

Leanne Fowler, DVM, CVA, CVMMP

Leanne Fowler, DVM, CVA, CVMMP

Ambulatory Clinician and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist

Dr. Leanne Fowler was educated at the University of Tennessee, where she received both her Bachelor of Science in animal science and her veterinary degree. Dr. Fowler strengthened her veterinary skills by completing a one-year internship at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Wellington.

In addition to her veterinary degree, Dr. Fowler is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through the renowned Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Reddick, FL. She also traveled to Guangzhou, China for her equine-specific acupuncture training. Dr. Fowler also completed her equine spinal manipulation certification (chiropractic) in 2021 through the Integrative Veterinary Medical Institute.

Dr. Fowler is a Certified FEI Permitted Treating Veterinarian. She enjoys international travel and interacting with diverse populations. Dr. Fowler’s special interests include equine musculoskeletal disease, integrative modalities, and ophthalmology.

Outside of work, Dr. Fowler enjoys international travel and salsa dancing.

You may contact Dr. Fowler directly at lfowler@brandonequine.com.


Christopher Merren, DVM

Ambulatory Clinician

Dr. Christopher Merren dreamed of becoming a veterinarian from a very young age. Through assisting his father with horseshoeing, he gained respect and knowledge that every part of the animal is vitally important. His family always had various pets, including dogs, goats, rabbits, chickens, and horses, which helped him understand that husbandry is a key component of health in animals. While in middle school, Dr. Merren witnessed a local veterinarian treat a horse in severe pain. It quickly became obvious that the horse had colic and that even with surgery, there would be no hope for a positive outcome. The horse was euthanized to stop his suffering, and Dr. Merren’s drive to become a veterinarian was cemented.

Dr. Merren obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, and went on to earn his veterinary degree at Texas A&M University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Upon becoming a veterinarian, Dr. Merren practiced in the food animal industry in west Texas and then worked in mixed and small animal medicine before opening his own equine and food animal mobile practice. He operated his mobile practice throughout Texas for several years before joining the team of Brandon Equine Medical Center.

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Dr. Merren’s goal with every patient is first to ensure that pain and suffering are relieved; second, to ensure that pain and disease are prevented and treated the best way possible; and third, to provide the patient’s owner with compassion and explanations, and education.

Dr. Merren makes his home with his wife Becky (currently a medical resident), his daughters Camille and Caleigh, and their energetic, frisbee chasing border collie named Oakley. His philosophy on life is to offer the best care for everything as though it were his own and treat every person with the same respect and patience that he would wish for. Dr. Merren believes that life is about experiences, not objects, and looking for the best in every situation.

You may contact Dr. Fowler directly at cmerren@brandonequine.com.


Whitney Cutrone, Surgeon 


Dr. Whitney Cutrone was born in Virginia. However, she moved all around the U.S. growing up and considers Texas her adopted home. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University, Dr. Cutrone completed her veterinary degree at Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences in 2016.

Shortly after vet school graduation, Dr. Cutrone moved back to Texas to complete a rotating internship at Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery in Weatherford, Texas. It was during this year Dr. Cutrone discovered that her true passion was within surgery and sports medicine. Following completion, Dr. Cutrone then went on to complete a specialty second internship in Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, and ultimately completed a Large Animal Surgery Residency at the University of Minnesota. During her surgery residency, Dr. Cutrone served the Large Animal Hospital as Chief Resident and was awarded the Excellence in Clinical and Diagnostic Teaching Award by the student body. She was also selected to present her research at the ACVS Surgery Summit Resident Forum. After completing her surgery residency, Dr. Cutrone stayed on as a Clinical Instructor Emergency Surgeon in Large Animal Surgery at the University of Minnesota.

After 5 years of Dr. Cutrone being perpetually cold, she was itching to get back to warmer weather and joined the team at Brandon Equine Medical Center in summer 2022. While Dr. Cutrone enjoys a multitude of aspect within equine veterinary medicine, her specific professional interests include emergency/colic surgery and upper airway surgery. She is excited to be a part of the team at Brandon Equine, to serve the central Florida horse communities, and form lasting relationships with horse and owners alike.

Expert equine care in Brandon, FL.

From our board-certified horse surgeons and board-certified internists to our professional and courteous staff, at Brandon Equine Medical Center, we are committed to the health and well-being of all breeds and sizes of horses. In the field, as an outpatient, or when admitted to the horse hospital, we treat every horse like our own and every client as the most important.

Contact Info

Phone: 813-643-7177
Email: info@brandonequine.com


Monday – Friday: 8AM-5PM
Saturday & Sunday: Closed
Emergency care available: 24/7/365


605 E Bloomingdale Ave
Brandon, FL 33511
Click here for directions.

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