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Lakeland adding dog park with land donated by The Pet Hospitals

By Updated: October 01, 2018 4:00 AM CT
<strong>Mallory Peddephatt tosses a ball to Luke the black lab at The Pet Hospitals' Lakeland location, which donated an adjacent strip of land that will be converted into a dog park in memory of Zadie Kuehl, a 6-month-old who was killed by a drunken driver along with her mother, Stefanie, and unborn brother.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Mallory Peddephatt tosses a ball to Luke the black lab at The Pet Hospitals' Lakeland location, which donated an adjacent strip of land that will be converted into a dog park in memory of Zadie Kuehl, a 6-month-old who was killed by a drunken driver along with her mother, Stefanie, and unborn brother. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

The Zadie E. Kuehl Memorial Park in Lakeland soon will expand to include a dog park on land donated by the owners of The Pet Hospitals.

Zadie Kuehl was 6 months old in 1997 when she died in a car crash that also killed her mother, Stefanie Brown Kuehl, the daughter of former television meteorologist Dave Brown. Zadie’s unborn brother, Thomas, also was killed in the crash, which was caused by a drunken driver.

The idea for adding a dog park to the recreation area had the full support of Zadie’s father, Greg Kuehl, along with Brown and his wife, Margaret.

“We were aware of Zadie E. Kuehl Park, having been in Memphis for a long time,” said Dr. David Wright, co-owner of The Pet Hospitals.

The Pet Hospitals’ new building on Canada Road replaces the former clinic, which was located nearby and is built on a lot that backs up to the existing park. Having heard that the city of Lakeland wanted to build a dog park, The Pet Hospitals approached city officials about dedicating the property behind their Lakeland clinic.

“We’re all about the city of Lakeland, and we’re all about dogs,” said Wright. “We really wanted the family to have input on the name, and they really wanted it to be named the Zadie E. Kuehl Dog Park as well.”

The Pet Hospitals put in a median cut, a road, and utilities for the future dog park. Lakeland received a $25,000 grant from the Boyd Foundation that the suburb will use to fence in the dog park and install some amenities, said Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker.

“The dedication of this land to the park actually opened up an entrance on Canada Road,” he said. “Before, you had to go through the neighborhood to get through the park, so it wasn’t utilized very much at all.”

The city also approved an additional $25,000 to match the grant. “That’s going to enable us to go a little bit further and immediately have something that citizens can use and that they can be proud of,” said Bunker. “It is such an appropriate way to honor the memory of that little girl killed in that car accident.”

Bunker added that the dog park will include water features and obstacle courses. “This is going to be a tremendous asset for our citizens,” he said. “We couldn’t be more appreciative of the Boyd Foundation for the grant funding and also The Pet Hospitals for the donation of the land.”

Zadie’s father, Greg Kuehl, met Stefanie when he worked with Brown at WMC-TV Channel 5. “The first time we talked, we talked for three or four hours straight,” said Kuehl of his wife. “That’s the hardest thing, I think. We just clicked.”

Kuehl sees the park as an addition to the community’s quality of life. “Everywhere I’ve gone that’s had a dog park, there’s been all kinds of participation” Kuehl said. “There’s been some vandalism over at the other park, and I’m hoping with the addition of this park and the increased utilization that there is higher visibility.”

The original park was part of a green-space initiative, according to Kuehl. After the accident, Lakeland Commissioner Mark Hartz lobbied to name the park after Zadie, and it was officially dedicated in 2002.

“This has been Zadie’s park from the beginning of the concept,” said Kuehl.

Bunker anticipates construction of the dog park to begin next spring with completion in mid-summer.

“Zadie was 6 months old, a beautiful child, and just never had a chance at life because it was snuffed out by a drunk driver,” said Brown, Zadie’s grandfather. “I hope over the years that this (park) will inspire people, and maybe one person will read something and find out what’s going on, and it will save a life somewhere down the road.”

The families hope the expansion will provide more access to the park, improve security, and offer a service that has proven to be popular.

“As far as the memory of Stef and Zadie and what it would do for me, I want it to be a place where people can create the memories that I wasn’t able to,” said Kuehl. “It’s a neat kind of feeling to see people on the playground with their little kids.”

When they were approached about the dog park being dedicated to Zadie’s memory, Brown says he and his wife, Margaret, were totally on board. “Stefanie, Zadie’s mother, loved dogs, so what could be more perfect?”



Topics

Lakeland dog park Dave Brown Zadie E. Kuehl Wyatt Bunker
Melinda Lejman

Melinda Lejman

Melinda Lejman is a freelance reporter for The Daily Memphian.


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