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, www.strayvoltagenyc.org) 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
Toronto Hydro (images)