Toronto: Dog killed, electrocuted on a morning walk along the street/sidewalk

More tragedy, the hidden danger of contact voltage:

Dog electrocuted on west-end Toronto sidewalk

A dog out for an early morning walk with its owner was electrocuted today near a hydro pole at Keele and Annette streets.

The power has since been shut off and the area north of High Park is safe, Toronto Hydro said at noon today.

Toronto Hydro Testing For Stray Voltage After Dogs Electrocuted
Toronto Hydro is blaming stray voltage for the death of a dog Tuesday in the city’s west-end.

And although officials admit they don’t know how widespread a problem it is, they are denying the incident is connected with the electrocution of a German Shepherd in the same area two months ago.

After that dog was killed, workers began a full sweep of the city’s power grid for hot spots. They should be finished testing in a few weeks.

Darjan Avramovic’s Labradoodle Mrak was killed when it stepped on a metal hydro plate charged with electricity near Keele and Annette.

It appears that old, faulty wiring leading to a light post at the intersection was sending an electrical current up through the ground, and the dog’s wet paws acted as a conductor.

Unfortunately, efforts to revive Mrak with CPR failed.

A German shepherd died in November after being electrocuted near a light pole in the same neighbourhood.

“At this time, we don’t know what happened – we can’t draw any conclusions,” said Denise Attallah, a spokesperson for Toronto Hydro.

“We’re expressing our deepest condolences to the owner of the dog,” Attallah said.

A 25-year-old man was walking his 5-year-old Labrador-poodle mix, Mrak, when the dog stepped on a metal plate embedded in the sidewalk near a hydro pole, said Const. Tony Vello, a spokesperson for Toronto Police.

Officers were called to the scene, at the corner of Keele St. and Annette St., shortly after 2 a.m.

Firefighters found the dog “lying motionless near the plate,” and gave it CPR for about 20 minutes, said Capt. David Eckerman of Toronto Fire Services.

“The owner said he felt the shock when he crouched down and touched the plate,” he said.

Councillor Bill Saundercook, who represents the area, said apparently the two incidents came from different sources of power.

“This is a toxic pool of ice and salt and four wet feet that electrocutes dogs,” he said, adding residents in his neighbourhood are very concerned.

“I have been told that it would not affect humans in the same way.”

Saundercook added that he wants city officials to look at the possibility of using a greater mix of sand on sidewalks, reducing the salt and resulting amount of water that pools, to reduce risks.

Over the holidays, he was walking his visiting daughter’s dogs close to where the electrocution took place, so he understands the fears of dog owners.

Street fixtures such as metal plates, service boxes and fire hydrants can carry stray voltage and transmit currents on contact, according to the website Streetzaps, which tracks such incidents throughout the U.S.

While stray voltage can be dangerous to pets of all sizes, it’s unlikely to affect humans, said Chris O’Toole, a veterinarian with the Blue Cross Animal Hospital on Danforth Ave.

“We wear rubber-soled shoes,” which impede the electrical flow, he said.

Though he hasn’t treated animals shocked under such extreme circumstances, O’Toole said that even a mild jolt can cause heart problems, including heart failure.

It can also lead to pulmonary edema, in which the lungs fill up with fluid – not to mention burns where the skin comes into contact with electricity, he said.

“Even a mild shock can have an impact on a big dog,” he said, noting that young, healthy pups have better odds of recovery.

Pet-electrocution cases are common in the United States, particularly in big cities such as New York and Boston, where fraying or uninsulated underground cables have triggered hundreds of electrocutions in recent years.

A New York doctoral student was electrocuted in 2004 when she stepped onto a service box while walking her two dogs downtown. The box and its metal cover had been electrified by a poorly insulated temporary cable.

Consolidated Edison, the New York power company, agreed to pay the woman’s parents $6.2 million in damages.

A year later, the state enacted regulations to deal with stray voltage, forcing utilities to perform annual stray-current tests on manholes, service boxes, traffic lights, and other publicly accessible equipment.

When a leak is found, it must be secured and remedied within 45 days.

The rules, widely considered among the strictest in the U.S., have not prevented further incidents.

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