(Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2010. Please read here for an update about City Light’s contact voltage testing program in 2021).
No Proof of “Isolated Incident”
On November 25th, a 6-year-old dog named Sammy was electrocuted after he stepped on a metal plate next to a faulty streetlight in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.
In response to this tragedy, Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco released an open letter today that said the following:
“On Thanksgiving, a dog was electrocuted on Queen Anne Avenue when it came into contact with a metal plate covering some electrical wires for four streetlights.
This was a tragic incident and devastating for the family that owned the dog. We are truly sorry for their loss of a beloved family member.
I want to assure the public that as soon as City Light was made aware of the situation, we responded by de-energizing the electrical service.
Our crews investigated the cause. We discovered that the original installation in 2006 did not include proper grounding of the four lights.
Our crews have made the necessary repairs to all these lights and tested for any potential electrical charges. There is no electrical charge to any of the lights or groundcover plates. All the streetlights are functioning.
We want the public to be assured that this was an isolated incident. We are researching our records to determine whether there are similar lights elsewhere in our system. If we find there are, they will be inspected and any necessary repairs will be made immediately.”
Seattle City Light Hopes Public Will Forget About Dog’s Death
While I appreciate that SCL responded quickly to repair the faulty streetlights, how could Sammy’s death an isolated incident.
As I previously wrote, the Seattle Department of Transportation, not SCL, had the responsibility for approving the installation of private streetlights; in addition, no written records exist for these installations before July of 2010.
If no records exist, how can Superintendent Carrasco know if the contact voltage from the faulty streetlight that killed Sammy was an isolated incident?
Furthermore, since Sammy died, people from various parts of Seattle contacted Lisa to who say their dogs were shocked.
In fact, contact voltage shocked another dog not far from where Sammy died. Fortunately, it survived.
To me, Superintendent Carrasco’s pronouncement that Sammy’s electrocution was an “isolated event” was based on hope rather than fact; that is, he hoped no other dogs would be shocked so the public would forget Sammy’s death.
And the sooner the public forgot about Sammy, the sooner Seattle City Light could continue ignoring the problem of broken streetlights.