Dog Electrocuted by Metal Utility Cover Wasn’t an Isolated Case

On a rainy September evening, Lynn McDermott took his puppy, Charlie Blizzard, for a walk around their Sarasota, FL, neighborhood. As they walked along a sidewalk, the six-month-old Great Pyrenees stepped on the metal cover of a utility box.

Charlie collapsed. When McDermott grabbed the puppy’s leash, he got a shock. He picked up Charlie, who was foaming at the mouth, and ran home, calling 911 on his cell phone. His wife, Debbie, administered CPR on the puppy, as did the firefighters who quickly arrived on the scene. But it was too late. Charlie was dead.

What killed him? The metal cover he stepped on with his wet paws had become electrified, when a faulty underground wire came into contact with it. The utility box contains the wiring for street lights.

As horrible as this incident was, it was not, by far, an isolated case. Dogs have also been electrocuted during walks in other parts of the country. Last January, a Siberian husky named Marvin was zapped as his owner, Elizabeth Nyce, walked him on a snowy street in Brooklyn, NY.

Like Charlie, Marvin stepped on a wet metal utility cover and fell to the ground. “He starts screaming, like in pain,” Nyce told FOX5NY. Fortunately, Marvin survived, as did several other dogs who were shocked at the same location. Four years ago, several other dogs were shocked in Brooklyn. All of them survived, but one Labrador was unable to walk.

According to Con Edison, which owns the Brooklyn utilities, 21 shocking incidents were reported in 2017. The company said the source of Marvin’s shock was an abandoned electric service that has since been shut off.

“After periods of snow and ice, we may see an uptick in reports of shocks and energized equipment,” Con Ed said in a statement, according to FOX5NY. “We conduct stray voltage patrols regularly and our aim is to provide safe, reliable service.”

As for Charlie, his grieving owners consider him a hero. The utility box he stepped on is located near a bus stop and a home for disabled people. “They have caregivers that literally push people in wheelchairs across that box,” Debbie McDermott told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Sarasota Public Works Director Doug Jeffcoat told the Herald-Tribune there was no indication from the street that the utility box was faulty. He said it has been repaired and other boxes are being inspected. The city of Sarasota owns about half of the metal pull boxes, while the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) owns the remainder, including the one that killed Charlie.

“He protected our community,” Debbie McDermott said. “He made our home; he made our community.”

Protect Your Dog from a Shock

To prevent your dog (and yourself) from getting shocked by stray voltage, PetMD.com and the Contact Voltage Information Center (CVIC) recommend you do the following:

  • Don’t use a metal collar or leash.
  • Don’t let your dog step on or touch manhole covers or grates, or metal poles, fences or fire hydrants.
  • Stop your dog from urinating on electrical boxes and other objects with conductive surfaces.
  • Never tie your dog to lampposts or other metal objects.

The CVIC also provides helpful online maps of the U.S. and Canada you can check for information about stray voltage where you live — and how to contact your legislators to do something about it.

Related at Care2

Photo credit: Thinkstock

113 comments

Glennis W
Glennis W20 days ago

Sickening Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W20 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W20 days ago

Deplorable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W20 days ago

How sad Thank you for caring and sharing

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago

Noted

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Michael Friedmann
Michael Friedmann2 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Linda L
Linda L2 months ago

wow sharing

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Georgina Elizab M
Georgina Elizab M2 months ago

What a horrible way to die.I hope that these boxes will be replaced with something more safer

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Camilla V
Camilla Vaga2 months ago

thx

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Pietro M
Pietro Maiorana2 months ago

Ciò è pericoloso per tutti, non solo per gli animali...

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