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Dog is killed by stray voltage on Lower East Side

86-Clinton-Street

BY ZACH WILLIAMS  |  In the worst local stray-voltage incident since an East Village woman was killed while walking her dogs on the street a decade ago, a dog died on the Lower East Side last Saturday after being zapped by live electric current.

The 11-year-old pit bull-terrier mix was electrocuted Feb. 15 while entering her building at 86 Clinton St. A subsequent investigation by Con Ed blamed faulty wiring on outside scaffolding, a finding backed up by the city Department of Buildings, which issued the property owner a violation.

“That incident on Clinton St. we believe may have involved problems with wiring on the building’s scaffolding,” said Mike Clendenin, a Con Ed spokesperson. “It appeared to be in poor condition. Our crews capped it and made it safe, and notified the building owner… . We checked out our equipment at the location and found nothing wrong.”

The danger of stray voltage has been known to local officials and residents for years. It was highlighted, most tragically, in January 2004 when local resident Jodie Lane died on a slush-covered street on E. 11th St. near First Ave. while walking her two dogs. First, the dogs were shocked, and then Lane was affected, ultimately falling down on the street, where she expired, as police — who had been shocked trying to help her — kept people away.

While progress has been made in addressing the stray-voltage issue with utility companies and the city’s Department of Transportation, one longtime local dog trainer and activist said incidents are rising.

“This year has been a lot higher than normal, especially in the East Village. It’s off the charts,” said Garrett Rosso, who has managed the Tompkins Square dog run since 1999. He said he knows of at least 12 local sidewalk dog-shock incidents since December.

Kelly Magee, a Buildings spokesperson, acknowledged that such accidents do occur, but denied there has been any spike in incidents reported to her agency.

The department “proactively” oversees scaffoldings to ensure they’re safe, she said.

“If there are concerns about a specific scaffold location, they should be reported by calling 311 and the department will investigate,” she said.

Magee said no reports had been filed since 2011 for a property at 30 St. Mark’s Place where one local resident said her dog clearly received an electrical shock earlier this month in two separate incidents. Another resident said his dog was recently shocked within a safety corridor outside a construction site at E. Seventh St. and Avenue C.

“He jumped and screamed and then moved quickly away from that area,” said Alex Stevens, an architect.

His account of the initial confusion accompanying such incidents was similar to those of neighbors who, at first, did not realize what had hurt their pets.

“I initially thought it was acid from the salt,” said Amy Miketic, whose dog was shocked in two separate incidents on Feb. 2 and Feb. 6 outside 30 St. Mark’s Place. She filed a complaint with D.O.B. via 311 on Feb. 2 that has gone unanswered.

While stray voltage can kill dogs, many owners reported that their canines were able to quickly shake off the jolt.

Efforts are underway among dog owners, Con Ed and Community Board 3 to create better warning signage.

Speaking to the need for clearer signage, Rosso said, “They see warning tape, but don’t know what it’s for.”

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