It seems to be popping up in the news and on social media boards a lot – dogs getting electric shock just by walking down the street! Back in February, a dog was killed walking along Southhampton Street by an electric shock. On Friday, the Boston Fire Department responded to a call that a dog was shocked at Castle Island while trying to drink from a puddle. The dog suffered minor injuries. The Department of Conservation & Recreation called Eversouce and cut the power as a precaution and Massachusetts State Police set up barriers around the area to keep people away. The DCR believes the puddle was electrified by a stray volt from a light pole likely damaged by a rodent chewing on wires.
So what causes this? Well, aging infrastructures, weather damage and general erosion of electrical cables and wires running under sidewalks or streets sometimes get exposed and end up touching and charging metal objects such as sewer covers and grates, light posts, dumpsters, signs, and fire hydrants. An electric shock can happen if a dog or person touches one of these objects. According to Animal Wellness Magazine, some sidewalks can even have 100 volts of electricity running through them, which is basically like sticking a finger into a live electrical outlet.
Animal Wellness Magazine also offers these following tips for prevention:
- Avoid touching or walking on metal objects on or near the street or sidewalk during or after rain, snow or ice, especially on salted streets. Melted snow mixed with de-icing salt is a particularly effective electrical conductor.
- Don’t let your dog sniff or pee on or near anything metal, including trash cans or dumpsters, and especially light poles with missing covers or exposed wiring. • Never tie your dog to a lamp post or metal sign while getting coffee or a paper.
- Put rubber dog boots on your pooch, but make sure they are watertight. If they’re not, they could do more harm than good. After each walk, check the boots for damage or holes.
- Don’t use a metal leash. Keep metal on collars to a minimum.
- Flickering street lamps should be reported to the utility company at once. Steer clear of them until they are repaired.
- When walking, pay attention to your surroundings and your dog. Carry a charged cell phone, just in case you have to call for help, but don’t talk on the phone or listen to music while you’re walking – use this time to enjoy your dog’s company while keeping an eye on his safety.
City Councilor and Southie resident Ed Flynn is working on this important safety issue. On Friday, he released a statement via Facebook stating that his office has filed an order for a hearing regarding the issues related to stray voltage in the City of Boston.
Stay safe out there!