Ozzi Dog Parks is a non-profit foundation formed by Jennifer Putnam of Chatham to help create spaces for dogs to run off-leash.
Putnam’s 39-year-old son, Joshua Laven, originally from Eastham, was on a cross-country bike trip in 2012. He was traveling with his Cairn terrier, Ozzi, who rode in a crate attached to the bike.
On May 4, 2012, in Santa Cruz, California, Laven was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. Ozzi stayed by his side until they were found the next day by a couple riding a tandem bike. The couple has since adopted Ozzi and become friends with Laven’s family on the Cape.
Joshua’s family offered a reward for any information leading to the person who hit Joshua and left him by the side of the road to die of his injuries, but the case remains unsolved.
Putnam decided to turn the tragedy into a positive initiative with the launch of Ozzi Dog Park, Inc. Currently, the foundation has raised enough funds and received approval to develop the first Ozzi Dog Park, a 9,500 square-foot multi-use park set to be built in Capitola, California, Ozzi’s new hometown.
They will be breaking ground in September on the dog park in Capitola that will be named after Joshua.
“Then I thought, oh my goodness, we need dog parks on the Cape,” sPutnam said. “So I decided to do another dog park in Chatham, hopefully.”
Putnam is scheduled to appear before selectmen in October to present her idea for a dog park on town land that is located on Middle Road behind the dump and the septic treatment plant. It is a 3.63-acre property that the town owns.
“I’m hoping they’ll be supportive of this,” she said.
Putnam says her eventual goal is to create additional dog parks on the Cape in towns that don’t already have parks. Falmouth, Dennis and Provincetown have dog parks. Mashpee, Barnstable and Yarmouth are working on parks.
“I think every town on the Cape should have a dog park,” she said. “It’s exciting to me and it’s gratifying and I feel like I’m doing something that Josh would support.”
Putnam said her son had raised Ozzi from a puppy and the two were very close. Josh decided to ride cross country in memory of a friend who died and he was riding the friend’s bike. He carried Ozzi in three ways: in a pack on his body, in a crate on the back of the bike; and in a trailer. They were camping along the way during the trip.
Ozzi, who was 4 at the time of the accident, sustained some minor injuries also but he stayed by his master’s side. “He’s a hero dog to me,” Putnam said.
Putnam, who grew up in Harwich, lived in Eastham and Orleans while Josh was growing up. He attended Nauset Regional High School.
Guapo’s Tortilla Shack in Brewster is holding a benefit for the effort at its restaurant this afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. Guapo’s is raffling off a bike and holding a special Mutts ‘n Margaritas Social to benefit the group. People and their dogs are invited to the outdoor patio over cocktails, appetizers and treats. Raffle tickets will be available and donations will be accepted to benefit the foundation.
Until the end of August, Guapo’s is selling raffle tickets to win a custom-built bicycle. The beach cruiser has extra-large wheels, making it rugged enough to cruise over any terrain, including the Cape’s sandy beaches. Tickets are $3 each, three for $10, and ten for $20 and can be purchased at the restaurant on Underpass Road.
“Joshua was a dear friend of mine and my family,” said Kyle Parker, owner of Guapo’s. “We want to honor his memory by helping Jen raise as much money as possible for Ozzi Dog Parks. We can’t wait for the day the ribbon is cut on the first Ozzi Dog Park on Cape Cod, and we hope everyone in the community will support this positive endeavor.”
For more information on Ozzi Dog Parks, visit www.ozzidogparks.com or www.facebook.com/ ozzidogparks. Donations can also be made online or at donation boxes located at Guapo’s in Orleans (Staples Plaza on Route 6A) and Brewster (239 Underpass Road).