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Avoid Shock on Your Block

Dear Friends:

As you all know by now, more dogs have been shocked and killed due to stray voltage from city sidewalks from faulty or corroded wiring. We suspect that the recent snowstorm, and consequent icing, salting and melting, has aggravated the situation.

Unfortunately we are barely into New Year 2009 and the reports of dogs getting shocked are beginning to come in. From a dog chat board in Battery Park City today (January 16th):

Yesterday while walking on Broadway and East 4th Street near NYU, I saw a man with a small pitbull approach the corner to cross the street. His dog immediately started screaming in agony and he bent down to see what was wrong with her. A crowd gathered but he kept looking at her feet, thinking she had stepped on something. She continued to scream. I ran across the street and yelled to him to get his dog away from the corner. I noticed he was standing right next to a silver light post and the bottom was open and a wire was hanging out. His dog was being shocked. There was also a fair amount of salt on the sidewalk near the light post, which I'm sure acted as a conductor. After a while, his dog recovered and I told him to walk clear of light posts and the metal grates in the street. He said he never knew about this.

I called 311 and within 5 minutes the fire department showed up and cordoned off the area and said they would notify DOT.

Battery Park City has had its own electricity problems, with street lights shorting out on numerous occasions. There are temporary generator lights on the corner of Albany and South End because the lights on the east side of South End Avenue are not working.

Please take extra special care to keep you and your dogs safe by not walking near the light posts or on the metal grates in the street. Salt is a conductor and sometimes snow can cover the grates in the streets so it can be especially difficult to see them. If at all possible, avoid using metal leashes. This experience yesterday left me shaken, but thankfully the man and his dog were okay. Electrical shock risks and how to deal with them are discussed further on the BPC Dogs website at

Blair Sorrel, who has spearheaded the public safety effort against sidewalk shock of both dogs and humans for the past several years has a comprehensive, easy-to-read website called StreetZaps at Please visit it to find shock incidents reported in your neighborhood and please use it if, unfortunately, you and/or your dog discover a 'hot spot' on the street!

Very truly yours,
Diane West,
New York Tails

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Most recent update: 1/18/09
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