Posted on 29 December 2016 by LeslieM

Re: New Dog Park

Dear Editor:

My name is Joseph Batavia, and I live on the east side of Deerfield Beach. Due to my disabilities, I have a young service dog named “Baby.” Baby needs regular exercise, and is in training for the second phase of her certification, but there are currently no dog parks in Deerfield Beach. To get to the nearest dog park, Baby and I must take a bus, wait an hour to take a second bus, then walk to the dog park. A visit to the dog park takes Baby and me an entire day. I have had knee injuries, so walking that far is not practical for me. A dog park is planned for the west side of Deerfield Beach. I think we also need a dog park on the east side of Deerfield Beach, so other volunteers and I are circulating a petition to put a dog park east of U.S.1, as well.

Besides fulfilling my personal needs, I want to do something that will benefit our community as a whole. Dog parks will provide healthy exercise and recreation for the many dogs and dog owners who live in our community. Dogs can run free, play catch, and maybe enjoy a doggie fitness course, all without disturbing other park users.

I like to think that helping my community is a way of carrying on my father’s legacy. I lost my father, Andrew, “Drew” Batavia, when I was 12 years old. He was a quadriplegic as a result of breaking his neck in a car accident when he was 16 years old, but he didn’t let his disability stop him from having a full life. He graduated from Harvard Law School and from Stanford Medical School with a Master’s Degree in Health Services Research, went on to become a White House Fellow and to write the regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA). He advocated for the rights of people with disabilities, worked to establish national healthcare, and presented Amicus briefs in the U.S. and Florida Supreme Courts in support of assisted dying. He taught Health Law at Florida International University, and left behind extensive publications in support of the causes he believed in.

My goal is to get 15,000 signatures to bring to the Jan. 17, 2017 commission meeting. So far I have obtained over 200 signatures. However, due to my disabilities, walking around to get the signatures has proven too difficult. I have been attempting to seek permission from the City of Deerfield Beach to use one of their parks or facilities to allow people to stop by and sign the petition at one location. As of today, I have yet to receive a response. If you have any ideas or would like to help, please call me at 561-945-7087.

Joseph Batavia

Deerfield Beach

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