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City of North Vancouver investigates electrocution of dog on street

"There is a public safety issue... that we have to investigate”

 photo supplied Mark Teasedale, North Shore Newsphoto supplied Mark Teasedale, North Shore News

The City of North Vancouver is investigating how a dog came to be fatally electrocuted on a sidewalk in Lower Lonsdale on Friday.

North Vancouver City Fire Department and RCMP were called to the 100 block of Carrie Cates Court just before 12:30 p.m. when they got word of a woman and her dog receiving an electric shock. They were walking over a metal grate on the sidewalk between the Bean Around the World coffee shop and the Lonsdale Quay loading bay when it happened.

 photo supplied Mark Teasedale, North Shore Newsphoto supplied Mark Teasedale, North Shore News

First responders attempted to resuscitate the dog, a six-year-old Doberman-Rottweiler mix, but it died at the scene, according to witnesses. The woman received a shock to her arm but was uninjured, police said.

City fire crews disconnected the power and cordoned off the area.

“We’re very concerned about the incident. Our condolences go to the dog’s owners. I’ve called the dog owner myself to offer those condolences,” said city engineer Doug Pope, whose department is now leading the investigation into the electrocution. “It’s our understanding the dog was electrocuted when it stepped on a wiring junction box on the sidewalk. That junction box connects wires that are part of our street lighting system.”

Witnesses said there were live wires exposed underneath the box’s lid when crews dealt with the scene on Friday.

Pope said it appears the junction box had been tampered with. “Our investigation is still ongoing but what we’ve learned so far is it looks like some street work was done in the past year – we don’t know the exact time – but not by the city and not by our contractor,” he said. “Somebody had modified that electrical junction box and they left it in a way that wasn’t meeting electrical code.”

Pope said staff are searching city records to see if any permits had been granted for work on the block since the city’s contractor was there a year ago.

“So far we’ve come up with none,” he said. “We don’t want to speculate on who did it yet. We’re still looking into it.”

In the meantime, the street lights along the south side of Esplanade and Carrie Cates Court remain dark.

“We’ve disconnected the system and we’re not going to re-energize it until it’s safe,” Pope said. “We’re also going to investigate it further and do everything we can to reduce the likelihood that this ever happens again.”

North Vancouver RCMP are also looking into the matter.

“There aren’t any charges to be forwarded (to Crown) at this point; however, there is a public safety issue there that we have to investigate,” said Const. Brett Cunningham, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman.

There have been other cases over the years of dogs being zapped by “stray voltage” – when the electrical current jumps to the lid of a junction box and energizes it. Dogs are more likely to be shocked than humans because their paws come into direct contact with the lid, with water and salt from the street acting as a conductor.

Pope couldn’t say how many volts would have been flowing through the box at the time.

Read more from the North Shore News