Newsletter 2019
A note from Matt......
Lucy holding a sign that says lawyer wanted must like dogs
DIG is hiring. 

Send resume and cover letter to

Looking for hard working attorney to work in a small non profit. Hours generally 9-5, no weekends unless in trial. All levels of experience welcome to apply. Looking for someone amazing!!!
Why Animal Law?
Matt wearing a suit holding a bag and in the bag is a small puppy with his head sticking out of the bag
For more information, please feel free to contact me at

I am so excited and proud to be the Chair of the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar. Primarily, I love animals, and this gives me a great excuse to infuse balance in my life and my practice. However, substantively, interactions with animals effect more and more people on a daily basis and will have impact on every legal practice. Here are some statistics:

·   Pet care spending in 2018 reached a record-breaking high of $72.56 billion compared to $69.51 billion in 2017 [ 1 ]
·   As of December 31, 2016, there were almost 85 million households in the United States with at least one pet, up from nearly 73 million in 2010. 85 million households comprises 68% of U.S. Households.
· The growth in pet households occurred across generations, with the percentage of young adults (ages 18 to 24) that own dogs or cats growing from approximately 44% in 2010 to approximately 53% in 2017, according to Packaged Facts. [ 2 ]
. According to Packaged Facts, approximately 90% of dog owners and 86% of cat owners in 2018 considered their pets to be a part of the family [ 3 ] .
[ 1 ] The American Pet Products Association (APPA) Releases Annual Industry-Wide Spending Figures, March 21, 2019:
[ 2 ] Chewy Form S-1 registration Statement, April 29, 2019.
[ 3 ] Id. 

View from the Trenches
moms move mountains logo with a yellow sun and a blue dark blue and orange striped boxes
For the record, my name is Susan Magers. I’ve been part of the Sarasota County public school community for the past twenty years as a parent, volunteer, Parent Liaison and community member. I’ve served as the chair of several school district and community committees including the Exceptional Student Advisory Council, the Family and Community Engagement Team and the Sarasota County Developmental Disabilities Committee. It has always been my honor and pleasure to interact with District and School-based staff, believing we were working together in the best of interest of children.

What I’ve uncovered and encountered in the past eight months has been shocking. There is a cadre of students who were inappropriately moved from the general education curriculum standards and put on a modified curriculum intended only for children with significant cognitive disabilities. These children were robbed, they were denied an opportunity to be taught the same skills as their non-disabled peers, the skills required for post-secondary education and a decent job. The bar for them was set well below their capability level.

As awful as it was to learn this happened, what was even worse? The cover-up. Internal meetings where the data (just NUMBERS) were reviewed and a child’s future was pre-determined by people who may have never even met them. If a key number wasn’t below a certain level, the child was dumped back into the general education setting without appropriate services or follow up. The lack of instruction for several years wasn’t even considered before making the move.

What happened to these children? One of them ended her life. Another child attempted the same, and without parental intervention, may have been successful.

When staff was called to account for what happened, there was more cover up and lies. Where is the accountability for professional ethics? How do we trust you all with the safety and well-being of our children? Why are some of our children throw-aways? Their scores on a standardized test more important than helping them meet their potential, allowing them to be productive citizens.

Everyone associated with this situation should be ashamed. Those of your in positions of power need to get to the bottom of this issue, find these children, and fix this problem. 
DIG in the News
Out & About with DIG

FL Bar Annual Convention
June 26-29, 2019
Boca Raton, FL

ATVFL Webinar: CIL's and Voting
July 15, 2019

Enable Project - Venture Cafe
July 18, 2019

ATVFL Statewide Phone Call
July 19, 2019
ad for the puppy pit at the florida bar with a row of puppies on the bottom of the ad
Goat Yoga at the Florida Bar Convention

June 27, 2019
7am or 8:30am

South Inlet Park
Boca Raton, FL
(5 minute drive from hotel)
DIG In! For Equal Justice
It is that time of the year when attorneys must strive to satisfy their professional responsibility to provide pro bono service. We are hoping that this year you will
DIG in! for Equal Justice and make at least a $350.00 contribution to:

Disability Independence Group Inc.

This will satisfy your responsibility and help us continue to: 

Guaranty the rights of all persons with disabilities equal opportunity to live in the community by educating and advocating for their rights.

Fight discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities, and work with employers and governments to ensure that persons with disabilities have adequate job opportunities.

Ensure that persons with disabilities have safe interactions with law enforcement through The WALLET CARD PROJECT .  This is DIG’s signature efforts in conjunction with police departments to heighten the awareness and communication between law enforcement and people with disabilities.  

Your $350.00 or more contribution will satisfy The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Responsibility to provide pro bono legal services.

Please make you tax deductible donation using this link ,

or mail a check to: 
Disability Independence Group Inc.
2990 SW 35 Avenue  
Miami, FL 33133   
Matt standing at a lectern presenting at the GAL conference
[ Matt speaking at the GAL Conference]
Tony and Debbie speaking at Family Cafe on ATVFL
[ Debbie and Tony DePalma speaking at Family Cafe]
Matt and Caitlyn presenting at Family Cafe
[ Matt and Caitlyn Kio speaking at Family Cafe]
Matt with self advocates from FL SAND
[ Matt with self advocates from FL SAND at Family Cafe]
Debbie and Matt with the Royal DJs at Family Cafe
[ Debbie and Matt with the Royal DJ's at Family Cafe]
Sharon and Cat at a FAWL luncheon standing next to the title slide of the presentation
[ Sharon with Intern Cat at the FAWL Luncheon]
Supper Social Winner Maeva Chiche holding up a DIG bag
[ Supper Social Winner Maeva Chiche]
collage of pictures from the June supper social club with all the participants sitting at tables eating dinner
[ Supper Social Club June 2019]
June Supper Social Winner Carolina Puig holding up her DIG bag
[ Supper Social winner Carolina Puig]
Sharon is standing next to the DIG interns Cat Daniel James Abi and Doris at a training
[ Sharon with DIG summer interns at a training at the courthouse]
Training at courthouse with Sharon Debbie the Judge and Susan standing in front of a screen wit the title of the presentation on it
[ Miami Inclusion Alliance presenting a lunch and learn on DV/SA and abuse]
interns doris and abi standing in the office
[ Interns Doris and Abi]
Yare and Claudia in Peru with an alpaca
[ Yare and Claudia in Peru meeting an alpaca]
Cat sitting with a facility dog at a training
[ Intern Cat with a facility dog]
Kie sitting and petting Murphie and Lucy
[ Kie hanging out with Lucy and Murphee]
Miami Inclusion Alliance
What are some SOLUTIONS?

First: I suggest we must start a conversation about the problem and bring it into the light.

Second: We need to develop curricula that addresses the unique risks for persons with disabilities.  

Third: We need to deliver that curricula to person with disabilities, in a wide array of settings, including the schools.

Fourth: Begin an education program for agencies that serve person with disabilities on the role they play in stopping abuse and then encourage them with both “carrots and sticks” to be more accountable. 
I think it is important, when we look at the Intersection of Abuse and Disability, to look not just at efforts after someone has been a victim, but also look at efforts to reduce crimes in the first place. I have done some research and experts at the Vera Institute, believe that decreasing the number of crimes committed against people with disabilities involves two primary strategies: preventing the abuse from happening in the first place and stopping those who abuse from continuing to do so. (Vera Institute of Justice.Org.)

Strategy One is Preventing abuse from happening: Efforts to prevent abuse are still very limited. The method most often promoted focuses on changing the behavior of those at risk of abuse, using risk-reduction strategies. These strategies usually include equipping people to identify and leave situations where they may be at risk of abuse. While this sounds like a good idea, there are few, if any, curricula that address risk reduction for a person with a disability. The ones that do exist, fail to address the unique range of perpetrators and settings where this abuse might take place if you are a PWD (person with a disability) and how hard it is for them, to just leave an abusive situation. In addition these curricula are rarely offered in special education classes or other settings with high numbers of people with disabilities and, when they are, they are not tailored to the learning needs of individuals with disabilities.

Strategy Two is Stopping those who abuse from continuing to do so: Victims turn to many places in the hopes of finding protection from abuse and ending that abuse. They usually turn to friends and family or service providers. Unfortunately, 50% of the time, the abuser is someone that is in a position that makes them responsible for the person’s care. We could start to make change by looking at the service providers and agencies that provide that support. Agencies that employ people that provide services to persons with disabilities need to begin to take a leadership role in stopping the abuse. Unfortunately, many do not own their responsibility. Often accusations of abuse are handled administratively and rarely end up in the criminal justice system. That sends a message that stopping abuse is not a high priority and the agency’s role is minimal.
The View from Here
Head shot of Justine
Justine will be back soon.
LGBT Flag next to the City of Cusco flag both have horizontal rainbow colored stripes red orange yellow green blue and purple except the cusco flag has two strips of purple
Different Kinds of Pride

Recently, my family and I went on a trip to Cusco, Peru and the rainbow flags everywhere caught my attention. I was captivated by its surprising similarity to the American gay pride flag, so I did my research to see if there was any connection between the two.

There were no actual connections in what they stood for, but both rainbow flags represent a bridge across boundaries. For the inhabitants of Cusco that means a bridge across the heavens and the Earth, in fact the Incas used to believe that rainbows were a gift from their Sun God. For the LGBTQ+ community, it is a bridge across the restrictions of a heteronormative society, a journey towards acceptance. Furthermore, both flags represent social diversity: the flag of Cusco proudly displays the city’s Inca heritage and the LGBTQ+ community flag boldly establishes their unabashed love despite the social norms.

I find it fascinating how two flags 5,000 miles away from each other are so similar, yet have a completely different meaning for the communities they represent. However, due to the stigma towards the LGBTQ+ community, the similarities have brought certain hardships. Many shops in Cusco lose business because travelers assumed they are gay, or supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, due to their proudly displayed flags.
hurricane flags with the words hurricane preparedness are you ready
Hurricane Preparedness

With hurricane season fast approaching, creating and implementing an emergency kit and plan in extremely important for survival. For persons with disabilities and special needs, protecting yourself and your family requires planning ahead. Creating a plan and putting together an emergency kit with the help of your support network is extremely important to staying safe this hurricane season.
A plan should be specialized to the needs of each person involved but let’s begin with the basics. First, you should list each person, their contact information, and all supplies and equipment needed for at least 72 hours. You should also list the persons’ health conditions or disability-related needs with instructions as how to handle each. Next, make copies of very important documents such as financial, insurance, and medical records. Do not forget to keep all of these lists and documents in watertight containers. A basic of any plan is to review and practice the plan, check your food supplies for expiration dates, and replace supplies if necessary, every six months!
Although it may seem complicated, an important part of any plan is an evacuation route. Note that not only adults should know and understand the route, but also children! Be clear about where you will go in an evacuation such as staying with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to a county approved public shelter. You should also have additional emergency locations to meet in case you are unable to return home or separated from the persons in the plan. If you or a person in your plan need transportation assistance, you can pre-register with your county emergency management office so that the responding agencies can plan for your needs in advance. Additionally, check if more than one exit from your home is wheelchair accessible in case other exits are blocked.
Moving onto the emergency kit, along with the basics of any kit, your kit should be specialized to your needs as well as the persons within your plan. The basics include water for each person, including water for drinking, cooking and hygiene, non-perishable foods, medicines such as aspirin, first aid kit, flashlights, and radio. The important documents and lists can be kept in the emergency kit, but make sure they are on hand during any emergency! Additional items to consider for your specialized emergency kit depend on your specific needs. For instance, if you have self-administered medicines, keep the medicines you will need when traveling in case of an evacuation. An important piece of information to note is in a federally declared emergency you can get an extra 30-day supply with no price increase! If you need equipment, make sure you have extra batteries or know how to operate them if there is a power outage. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, keep a card that indicates your abilities and a batter-operated television set or radio with closed captioning. Concerning speech-related or communication disabilities, have an electronic communicator with you and pencil and paper for backup. If you have a cognitive disability, keep a copy of instructions that are easy to understand in your kit.
Being prepared is essential to staying safe during hurricane season but staying safe does not stop after you have completed a plan and emergency kit. Something to note is the importance of clear and effective communication. People will want to help you that are not familiar with your disability. So, practicing giving clear and precise directions whether that be orally or written is just as important as practicing an evacuation route. Remember to stay informed during any emergency situation!
Kids Crusaders
Kids Crusaders Logo
Julie will be back soon.
Lucille's Wall
Lucy with a sign in her mouth that says all guests must be approved by the dog.
Being prepared is always great! So be safe out there and keep your family and your pets safe this Hurricane season!

You can find a more information on Miami-Dade pet friendly shelters at:

Miami-Dade County Pet Friendly Hurricane Shelters

Hurricane season running from the beginning of June to the end of November is upon us, and we Floridian’s may love to stand our grounds and try to weather the storm. Unfortunately the storm can sometimes beat us and with it we are force to take our pride back for the safety of our family. For many of us our family can also comprises of a cat, dog, small animal, and a combination of the few.

Miami-Dade county has become increasing pet friendly especially knowing many people would rather stay home than leave their pets. The rules aren’t as strict as I had presumed them to be:

Simply put Four pets per household. They must be under control at all times and watched by one member of the household. This means leash, crates, cages; use what you know helps keep your pet under control and out of harms way. They will even take aggressive animals that can be controlled by their owners; muzzles or calming aids.

Of course your pet must have all the required vaccinations and proof of paper work when going to a shelter and for dogs and cats they must have valid Miami-Dade Rabies vaccines and tag present. You must also bring all supplies need to take care of your pet for the time being: food, water, bed, bedding, etc..

I always hope and pray that we never get another hurricane again but they are natural to our side of the country. It is always best to be safe and prepared. Please be sure to buy cages and crates for your pets and put them in storage. You do not want to be trapped with out one when hurricane season comes as people flood into the pet stores at the last minute to buy every single one. I would also buy a bag of dog food and put it in a container for the summer as a back up. Make sure to buy extra water for you and your pets as well.

The Wallet Card Project
the wallet card words in a diamond shape blue figure
The wallet card is a tool to be used by a teenager or an adult with a disability. Currently, we have developed cards for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disabilities.
Wheels & Heels
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.
Lorinda will be back soon.
black rectangle box outlined with a yellow line and the words Supper social club in the box in white
We are having a raffle this month.

Everyone that attends will be entered into the raffle.

Raffle prizes.
supper social club flyer with dates for august september october november and december the flyer is red yellow and black
Supper Social Club - August 2019
California Pizza Kitchen, 300 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134

08/05/19 6:30pm - 08/05/19 8:30pm

I'll be there!
I can't make it
There is NO Supper Social Club in July.
Happy 4th of July!
american flag waving in the wind
Benefits Information
head shot of Lesly
Asset Building for Individuals with Disabilities
Public benefit programs for people with disabilities, especially Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are not aimed at increasing assets and independence for people with disabilities as a result individuals with disabilities often have very limited income and few, if any, assets. The intent of asset building initiatives is that as individuals develop assets, they will be able to move out of poverty and remain out of poverty. Many asset building services for people with disabilities will NOT cause loss of critical SSI disability cash payments and essential health insurance such as Medicaid and Medicaid waivers.
Types of asset building services for people with disabilities:
2.      ABLE account

Disclaimer : The information on this article is for general informational purposes only. The information presented in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it may not necessarily reflect the most current legal developments. You should seek the advice of legal counsel of your choice before acting upon any of the information in this article.

I believe that if we all work together on education, support, and advocacy we can make asset buildup a reality for people with disabilities and low income families.
Lesly Quin   305 453 3491
ATV Florida!
Join one of our three new standing committees
  1. Communication. Chair: Jay Hahr
  2. Planning. Chair: Sandra Newsom
  3. Organizational. Chair: Christinne Rudd
Educational Information
head of stephanie langer holding a business file and wearing a black and white polkadot shirt.
When you become the story.

So this week, something strange happened. A reporter was following one of my cases closely. He had written several stories and wanted to keep the case and the surrounding issues in the news. But my case was rescheduled until August, so there is nothing new to report on my case. There are political measures also at play happening around my case but not directly related to my case. Having nothing new to report on the case, the reporter made me part of the story. It was not a bad article about me or even critical. But I must admit it was a little uncomfortable. While I have before been quote in the media, spoken on camera and even been photographed, I have never before been the subject of a story in quite this way. I have been struggling to understand why I am uncomfortable with being a part of the story. I realize that if I were to tell my story, this is not the story I would tell about myself. It’s funny to realize that once you put yourself out there, you have no control over what the media does to your story or how they portray you. It has been an interesting and important experience. We often encourage clients to share their story with the media. With the purpose of bringing light to these horrible experiences and to educate the public about what is really happening in their communities. But I have a new understanding of how difficult it is to trust that a reporter, a stranger, will take your story and tell it the way you want it to be told. Especially when that story is about your child. I am not being critical of this reporter. I actually think his reporting on my case has been exceptional. I just can’t wait till he gets back to reporting on the case and not me.              
Your Upward Journey
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey:

It is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale).