Please Help Pass Laws to Protect You and Your Pets!

Please Help Pass Laws to Protect You and Your Pets!

Contact Voltage Information Center, has launched a campaign to get laws passed to protect the public and pets.  A law was just passed in Rhode Island requiring the utility company to do mandatory testing.

Routine testing has proven to save lives.   Please help by signing this petition, clicking the link above you will be directed to sign.   Change can only happen if we make it happen! Thank you for your help and support.

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Dear Hydro-Quebec, City of Montreal…….

I feel it is important to share a comment that was made in The Montreal Gazette relating to article, “Lamppost’s stray voltage kills dog”.  It’s an important and significant message to send to Hydro-Quebec and the City of Montreal:

“What a terrible tragedy! I don’t think that this issue should be taken any less seriously because it was a dog that lost her life. Certainly it would be terrible if this happened to a child, but the point is that a life was lost and many more affected by electrical work done improperly in a public space. Anyone who has shared their home with a dog knows how much a part of their life these very special animals become, and I feel so sorry for Lily’s family. Would the city respond differently if this had been someone’s child, or will they wait until stray voltage does take a human life before acting to solve this problem? Waiting until spring is unacceptable! Pet owners of Montreal should take action and be heard to ensure that this does not happen again in this city! Following this story in the Montreal Gazette, I was appalled to read the insensitive response of Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Jean-Philippe Rousseau, who dismissed the issue in a very offensive way. I am both saddened and angered by the careless response to this event and strongly urge others in this city to take notice of this tragedy and voice their concern to see the problem of stray voltage addressed before any other lives are affected”. -Jupiter Rising

City of Montreal’s response: “Borough Coun. Marie Potvin said there are plans underway to check all lampposts in the neighbourhood in the spring”.  She also explains in a TV interview that the “work was not done correctly”.

Yes, sadly, since “the work was not done correctly” a dog was killed, her family is now suffering a heartbreaking and tragic loss while another dog is injured, and the city believes it’s okay to wait till spring to inspect all other lampposts?   Immediately following Sam’s death, Seattle City Light tested all the metal streetlights in its service area and found that 158 of them gave off dangerous levels of electricity. SCL now conducts annual routine contact voltage testing.

If immediate action is not taken to inspect for other possible contact voltage issues, it may be too late.  A child, a human, another beloved pet….Ms. Potvin, how will you then sleep at night?

Jean-Philippe Rousseau’s reaction to Montreal’s contact voltage incidences:

“Here in Montreal, one other incident was reported to the press, in February  2009. A woman’s 3-year-old beagle was electrocuted while walking along an icy  sidewalk. Hydro-Québec spokesperson Jean-Philippe Rousseau at the time dismissed  the possibility of electrocution as a cause, telling the Globe and Mail the  utility had too many fail-safe layers of concrete, insulation and ground  lines.

Contacted Friday about this latest incident, Rousseau again suggested an  autopsy should have been done on the dog.

“In Montreal, this is the first time I’m hearing about this … did he eat  something on the ground? A dog sniffs everywhere.”

At any rate, lampposts are the city’s responsibility, he said, not  Hydro-Québec’s”.

It is abundantly clear to me that Mr. Rousseau is in complete and total denial of such a problem existing.  He says, it’s the “first time he’s heard about this in Montreal”.   Does he really believe that Montreal is immune to contact voltage?  As stated in the article, another dog was electrocuted in 2009, but Mr. Rousseau didn’t believe the cause was from contact voltage, but instead said, “the  utility had too many fail-safe layers of concrete, insulation and ground  lines”.   What?? Does he even know and understand contact voltage–when, why, where, and how it occurs?  Perhaps he can be educated on this serious issue by his neighbor Toronto and learn from Toronto Hydro.

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Montreal The Gazette:”Lamppost’s stray voltage kills dog”

“Thank you for writing about Lily. She was truly an amazing loving dog and I miss her so much it hurts…I just don’t know what to do with myself”-Kelly Downs

Street shocks have been reported across North America, especially in cities  with aging infrastructure like Montreal’s”

By CATHERINE SOLYOM, The Gazette                                                           January  21, 2012

Lily, a happy-go-lucky Labrador-Schnauzer, was walking down a misty street in  Outremont Tuesday night when she started yelping, dropped to the ground in  convulsions, and died.

Her owner, Kelly Downs, began to scream herself. “Lily! What’s wrong? What is  happening? Somebody help!”

It wasn’t until Jeffrey Baker came out of his house to console her that she  began to understand what had happened. Baker had been walking his dog past the  same lamppost 20 minutes earlier and his dog had had a seizure.

Lily had been electrocuted.

Neither Downs, nor Baker, nor the city of Outremont had ever seen anything  like it. But upon inspection it turned out that a defective wire inside the  lamppost had created an electrified zone just outside it, possibly unnoticeable  to humans, but deadly to dogs.

In fact, stray or contact voltage, as the phenomenon is known, is not  uncommon at all, especially in cities plagued by aging infrastructure.

The most well-known fatality from stray voltage occurred in 2004, when New  York resident Jodie Lane and her two dogs were shocked by voltage from a  decaying service box under the street.

The two dogs survived, with burns to their paws, but Lane, a Columbia  graduate, did not. Since then, however, there have been hundreds of cases  reported across the United States, says Blair Sorrel, who has been tracking the  incidents since 2002.

“Electrocutions are fairly rare, fortunately, but shocks are not,” said  Sorrel, who runs the website Streetzaps. com.

“They tend to be underdocumented but fairly common – usually interpreted as  ‘something happened to the dog.’ ”

Street electrocutions happen when stray voltage from improperly insulated or  ungrounded wires or electrical equipment is conducted, typically through metal  grates, street signs, fire hydrants or bus shelters. Dogs are especially  susceptible because their four paws are bare. The salt and snow on Montreal’s  sidewalks also work as conductors of electrical current.

But Sorrel, who suggests “indoor restrooms” for dogs and de-icing products to  mitigate the danger, says while the risk is higher in the winter, there are  incidents all year round. “Equipment deteriorates all year round,” she says,  adding a national 30-year survey found the most incidents recorded in Florida,  peaking in June.

There have been cases in Canada too, notably in Toronto. Two dogs were  electrocuted on the same street corner near High Park in 2009, when they stepped  on an electrified grate. The source was found to be a faulty cable underground.  That prompted Toronto Hydro to launch a $14.4-million project to find locations  where electricity was escaping and posing a danger to the public.

Here in Montreal, one other incident was reported to the press, in February  2009. A woman’s 3-year-old beagle was electrocuted while walking along an icy  sidewalk. Hydro-Québec spokesperson Jean-Philippe Rousseau at the time dismissed  the possibility of electrocution as a cause, telling the Globe and Mail the  utility had too many fail-safe layers of concrete, insulation and ground  lines.

Contacted Friday about this latest incident, Rousseau again suggested an  autopsy should have been done on the dog.

“In Montreal, this is the first time I’m hearing about this … did he eat  something on the ground? A dog sniffs everywhere.”

At any rate, lampposts are the city’s responsibility, he said, not  Hydro-Québec’s.

As Lily lay motionless on the sidewalk along Côte. Ste. Catherine Rd., dog  owner Jeffrey Baker called 911 and firefighters were dispatched to the scene.  According to Sylvain Leclerc, head of communications for the borough of  Outremont, an electrician with the public works department then cut the power to  all the lampposts in the area and proceeded to inspect them all. That’s when he  found the stripped wire.

“The closer you got to the lamppost, the more dangerous it was – especially  for dogs,” Leclerc said, adding the problem was fixed overnight.

As a temporary solution, a 15-foot high wire now extends from one lamppost to  another to ground them both.

“But even if it’s not dangerous for a person, it was taken very seriously and  when we saw there was a problem, even an isolated problem, we decided to inspect  all the lampposts to make sure it never happened again.

Marie Potvin, the city councillor for Robert Bourassa – and a dog owner  herself – said she also would raise the issue with other councillors and the  mayor’s office because they should be inspecting their equipment too.

“When I heard about it, my jaw dropped. It’s serious because when we have old  infrastructure and wires we have the responsibility to make sure it’s safe, and  to prevent this sort of thing from happening elsewhere.”

Kelly Downs hopes what happened to Lily doesn’t happen again anywhere.

“There could be 100 lampposts like this in Montreal. I don’t know if it’s  safe.”

Baker says had it not happened to both of their dogs, the public would still  be in the dark about stray voltage.

“It was just the coincidence that the two dogs had the same reaction in the  same spot that allowed us to piece together the pieces of the puzzle,” Baker  said.

“But what if it had been a child walking there that night?”

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Montreal: Dog Lily Electrocuted….

What Is Contact Voltage?

Contact voltage is electricity that may be present on the surface of outdoor structures like streetlighting equipment, street signs and other energized fixtures, posing a serious shock hazard.

I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Kelly Downs, of Quebec, Montreal whose dog Lily was electrocuted this week on January, 17, 2012.  I learned of this tragedy yesterday when Kelly reached out to me through this blog to tell me what had happened to her sweet dog Lily while walking through their neighborhood. I feel it’s important to share her experience here:

“My dog Lily died at 11:20pm on January 17th 2012 at the corner of Villeneuve and Cote St Catherine in Outremont Quebec. She was electrocuted by a lamp post. I saw her die in front of my eyes and I do not know what was happening to her, i just started screaming “Lily what’s wrong”. Lily came to us as a foster dog and we were only supposed to keep her for a month but she hurt her leg and the adoptive family no longer wanted her because she was damaged. My boyfriend of 6 years and  I as well as the loving people at Clinic Liesse animal hospital nursed her back to health and although we were not supposed to keep her we could not help but imagine our lives without her. My boyfriend would call her my shadow because she would follow me wherever I went. She was the most affectionate and trusting dog that I have ever known. I looked forward to coming home every day to her happy face and wagging tail. I don’t know how to live without her, without my shadow. She was doing so well, her leg was healed and we were on our walk, we were walking on the sidewalk and she started to yelp and cry. I checked her leg, nothing was wrong, she was screaming at me to help her but i didn’t know what was happening. I tried to pick her up but she would not let me. She stated to bite me who and then fell to the ground and then she started to bite the clasp on her leach and bleed from the mouth. I was screaming for help, desperately needing someone to be with me and help me understand what was going on. A woman came running over in her PJ’s and her husband, she took me in her arms. I just keeper on screaming, “I don’t know what happen, I don’t know whats wrong”. Someone else came with their car and offered me a phone to call some one because I was only going for a short walk with my dog and only brought my keys, I could not remember anyones number. I could not think. The took me to my apartment and told me that Lily had died. She probably died right in front of me but I just could not believe it. The people that heled me also said their dog had an attack in the same are just 20 minutes before, but their dog survived. After calling four different people from the city they finally told me that they had “fixed” the problem but it is a little late, at least for Lily. I’m not even sure if it is actually fixed because when my boyfriend went to the lamp post yesterday they had only duct taped the bottom. I asked how this could be prevented and there was “no comment”.  How can this happen?”

Only 15 minutes earlier, another dog Sophie in the neighborhood had suffered a shock from the same lamp post and thankfully survived.  As I learned more of Lily’s tragedy, I, again, am deeply disturbed by the response from the city of Montreal (borough of Outremont):

“Officials with the Outremont borough confirmed that there was faulty electrical wiring in the lamppost, and that it has been patched up.

Borough Coun. Marie Potvin said there are plans underway to check all lampposts in the neighbourhood in the spring”.

“Duct tape” may explain their patch up “repair” and waiting till spring to check the area for more possible problems?  Wow, how expedient of them! Only two dogs were injured and killed!  It is obvious that public street light safety is not a priority to this city, nor is there any urgency on the city’s part to test the area for more contact voltage issues.  I suppose it will take the death of a child, an adult for the city to take immediate action to check for more contact voltage problems, make the necessary repairs to ensure that streets and sidewalks are safe for people and pets of Montreal.  This is not acceptable!

Kelly, I am truly sorry for your loss, my heart aches for you.  Sadly, we share similar experiences; watching our beloved dogs die under extremely tragic circumstances, missing and wanting them back and having to deal with a city that is apathetic and not proactive in addressing this important issue of public safety.

In the beginning, the City of Seattle/SCL treated Sammy’s death as an “isolated incident”, a “freak accident”.    I didn’t believe it, I knew there could be more contact voltage problems that existed (with the help of Mr. Roger Lane, I pressed on, the public put pressure on our city…I urge you to do the same.  After Sam’s death, SCL tested all the metal streetlights in its service area and found that 158 of them gave off dangerous levels of electricity.  SCL now conducts annual routine contact voltage testing.  Street light safety should be treated with the greatest and utmost importance.  No one should have to suffer the way Sam and Lily did.  Their deaths were preventable.

R.I.P. Sweet Lily, you are now in a safer place with my Sam…..peace

CBC News article-

Toronto Hydro (images)

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City of Mountlake Terrace: Contact Voltage Testing Saves Lives!

I just received this comment from a viewer and would like to share it here.  Coincidentally, when I received this comment, I, too, had been crying…..missing my beloved dog Sam.

“Hi, Lisa, I’m crying again for your loss as I leave this message.  Thank you for your work to get Seattle City Light to do yearly testing.  Sammy is proud. Looks like Snohomish PUD is trying to dodge the issue now.  That would be my well informed and angry comment here”.

Yesterday I had heard about another electric shock incident involving a dog in a nearby Seattle town, Mountlake Terrace.  As I learned of this news, I became outraged, sick to my stomach, tears in my eyes, it was too familar…. almost as if I were re-living a part of a similar and horrible experience just over one year ago.

First, my heart goes out to the owners and their dog.  I am very sorry to hear of this and thank god that the owner and dog survived. I hope they are all doing all right from this horrific experience.

The responses from the city and PUD, “The pole was installed in 2004 by the PUD and is owned and operated by the city. Sometimes when different agencies play a role in installing and operating a light pole, errors occur.  It’s unclear if anyone worked on the pole after it was installed, which could have led to the error” are completely and totally unacceptable to me.  This is another example of a government-run utility company  passing the buck,  not accepting responsibility, lack of proper record keeping and making excuses for their “errors”.  Don’t they understand that these “errors” could be fatal, pose serious danger to the public?  The article goes on to say that city officials are “considering” contact voltage testing program. What’s to consider?  Is it going to take a death, perhaps a child, adult, someone’s beloved pet for them to realize the seriousness of this issue and take appropriate action to prevent such tragedies?  Contact voltage kills! Shouldn’t their number one goal be public safety?  The answer is YES.  They must invest in public street light safety by implementing a routine testing program and have proper safety procedures in place at all times.  This also includes working with other agencies, any and all work must be inspected, documented, and checked properly and regularly to ensure the public is SAFE.  Take it from me and learn from the City of Seattle–regular contact voltage testing saves lives!

R.I.P my Sammy, I miss and love you so much.  We continue to fight for street light safety.

To read the article from The Herald go to this link:

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El Dia de los Muertos……

El Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead is an annual tradition and celebration in which loved ones who have passed away are honored, remembered and celebrated on this day of November 1st.   I would like to honor my dog Sam who was and still is, so very special to me.   He passed away Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2010.  Sam will live in my heart forever.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss, think and dream about him.  What I miss most about him is his unconditional sweetness, he was so lovable, always happy, he could never get enough cuddles, always wanting more and I could never resist him.  I loved to shower him hugs and kissies.  I miss his loveliness, he was beautiful in every way,  he always made me laugh with his goofy personality.  Sammy made us all smile.  What I remember most is all of our amazing hiking trips we took together, the best of times we shared.  There are so many wonderful memories I have of him, I will always remember and love him forever.  R.I.P.  Sammy, sweet boy you are.

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More dog electrocutions…..

My heart goes out to the families of two dogs electrocuted this past week.  Dusty, another sweet lovable canine, electrocuted last week from a live power line knocked down due to storm damage in Poconos, DE.  Reading the details of his death brings tears to my eyes and memories resurface.  “It was something that shouldn’t have happened,” said Delaware Water Gap Assistant Fire Chief John Smith.   He’s right.  This should NEVER happen……but it does.  Please remember to keep you and your pet away from downed power lines, especially when water is present in all situations including construction sites,lamp posts, street lights, manhole covers, etc.  Contact voltage KILLS!  It is a hidden danger, please be aware of your surroundings and practice safety when walking all streets and sidewalks.

Another dog electrocuted this past week in Norwalk, CT.

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CBS News Coverage: Contact Voltage-America’s hidden and deadly danger…

Excellent coverage on contact voltage aired on CBS News. Though I wish they would’ve also included animals which are at a very high, and even sometimes higher risk for contact voltage since they are barefoot (barepawed in Sam’s case) 100% of the time (even booties won’t save their precious life), but nonetheless, very informative. It’s a short segment (below link) that will help to keep you and your furkids safe!

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Dog nearly electrocuted in New Jersey this week…

“Hoboken is inspecting light poles and replacing missing plates after dog is nearly electrocuted”.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

“HOBOKEN – The near electrocution of a dog in Church Square Park has spurred Hoboken to repair light poles that are missing the plate that covers the electrical wiring.

A city spokesman announced yesterday that all the light poles in Church Square Park have been checked and caution tape has been placed around the poles that are missing the metal plate, which apparently have been stolen for scrap metal. Repairs will be performed as soon as possible, city spokesman Juan Melli said.

On Thursday, a bull mastiff named Teddy Bear was injured while urinating on the pole in the park and coming into contact with some exposed wires.

Melli said the city is working with PSE&G to check light poles throughout the city and is aiming to have new plates made with a locking system.

If a light pole is missing its plate, it can be reported to Environmental Services at (201) 420-2049.”



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Ode to Sam…..

Sammy, it’s been over 3 months since you were taken from us, just wanted you to know that we think of you everyday and miss you, I know I’ve said this a million times and more, but I can’t help it, you will live in my heart forever my little boy.   Kim wrote me an email last night (remember how you pulled her up the hill at Tiger Mountain last summer?  She is still to this day, forever grateful to you!!), she wished she could take my pain away.  Perhaps my pain will never go away, but I’m sure in time, the pain will subside and get easier, but I will always miss you. 

Today I took my walk at Discovery Park,  I remember how you loved this daily ritual, pointing at the gulls, rabbits, squirrels (turtle too!) and the occasional sea otter that would cross our path and run to swim back to the water.  You watched and pointed ever-so-intently!  I also thought of all the times you used to watch me from the window in the house when I left to go some place you never took your eyes off me until I was out of your sight.  You’d watch me as I did you.  You were the best little boy in the world, I just want you to know how much you are loved and missed, I am trying to stay strong without you…..Here is a little song I heard yesterday that SO reminded me of YOU and your bravery, sweetness and the love you always gave and showed me:

‘I’d Give Anything I Own’  By ‘Bread’ , 1970s

You sheltered me from harm.
Kept me warm, kept me warm.
You gave my life to me.
Set me free, set me free.
The finest years I ever knew,
were all the years I had with you.

And I would give anything I own.
I’d give up my life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
just to have you back again.

You taught me how to laugh.
What a time, what a time.
You never said too much,
but still you showed you cared.
And I knew from watching you.

Nobody else could ever know,
the part of me that can’t let go.

And I would give anything I own,
I’d give up my life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
just to have you back again.

Is there someone you know,
your loving them so,
but taking them all for granted?
You may lose them one day.
Someone takes them away,
and they don’t hear the words you long to say.

I would give anything I own,
I’d give up my life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
just to have you back again;
just to touch you once again.

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