This is so very very sad. Posting for awareness. As I recall there was a similar problem on the east coast a few years ago.
Walk in park becomes a dog owner's nightmare
By Tonya Maxwell and Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah
Tribune staff reporters
Published February 20, 2007
Laura Mercer sobbed Monday evening in a downtown hotel room, remembering the sounds her beloved dog made in the long minutes before his death.
The dog lay near a fountain at the southern end of Grant Park Saturday evening, yelping and screaming, sounding as though he were being brutally stabbed, she recalled.
Instead, Smokey, a Labrador retriever mix, was electrocuted in what Chicago Park District officials are calling "a freak accident."
"I want to know how my best friend of nine years died the most horrible death in front of me," said a distraught Mercer, who was released Monday afternoon from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She said she felt emotionally unable to return home.
"What if this had been a little kid and it was a 5-year-old who put his mitten on the ground and died? I don't want anyone else to have this kind of pain."
Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said the dog stepped on an access panel in the ground along a raised asphalt walkway or promenade east of Michigan Avenue, near 8th Street.
An electrical wire within the access panel had shorted out, she said, and when the dog stepped on the panel Saturday evening, he was fatally shocked.
Chicago police said Monday they are investigating the death of a second dog that died in similar circumstances, according to Sgt. Eugene Mullins. No other information was available, including the location or time of the incident, Mullins said.
Mercer, 30, was hospitalized for shock and for bites inflicted by Smokey. Her husband, Matthew Mock, was out of town at the time of the incident and joined her at the hospital.
"You can prepare yourself that one day you might have to put a dog down, but with this, all her good memories of Smokey have been replaced by this," Mock said.
The route Mercer and Smokey took Saturday in Grant Park was one they had walked innumerable times. They left their condominium at 11th Street and Michigan Avenue about 5:30 p.m. for an evening walk and a quick trip to a dog-friendly video store.
About two blocks away, near 8th Street in Grant Park, Smokey yelped and lifted a paw, Mercer said. She thought the salt or snow was bothering him, maybe a rock.
Then, the 60-pound dog began howling and Mercer said she thought Smokey was having a seizure. She reached for him and he bit her right hand. She pulled away and his teeth grabbed her back left leg, ripping her jeans.
She called an emergency veterinarian clinic on her cell phone and a woman said the dog must be having a seizure and he would calm soon. Then Smokey slumped forward, Mercer said.
She said she then knelt down.
"I was trying to see if he was breathing or if he was dead. I put my fingers down to steady myself and I noticed my fingers tingling. I could feel it moving up through my hands and arms and my legs. It was a kind of a humming," she said, realizing that electricity was flowing from the ground.
She saw another man walking toward her with a dog and she heard the animal yelp.
"I screamed at the man to get out of there, it was going to kill his dog as well," she said, crying at the memory.
In all, Mercer said she believes the ordeal lasted 15 minutes before Smokey died.
She insists that her dog was on asphalt during most of the incident, about 5 feet from the panel Park District officials blame in the death.
The dangers of stray voltage gained national attention after the death of Jodie Lane in New York City in 2004.
She collapsed in slushy, bitter weather in the East Village as she walked her dogs and was electrocuted.
Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O'Neill said he is concerned because the park has been trying to attract dogs and dog-owners with a new dog park.
"When something like this happens, people feel nervous," O'Neill said. "We don't want another reason for dog walkers to feel unwelcomed in Grant Park."
Horrible, just horrible. Even though it seems like a total freak occurrence, this is not the first time it has happened. I can't remember the city, but this occurred several times last year. I don't know what can be done, because if you live in a city you can't always avoid all grates. As a matter of fact, we had to train Theo to walk on them because he used to be afraid of them.
Thank you for posting it.
Updated: video interview with dog's owner, pictures of the dog in happier times. This is difficult to watch.
Nathan - this dog wasn't even standing on the grate, from what I understood. The "buzz" could be felt in the pavement surrounding the metal grate.
The owner is right - if it was a small child who bent down to pick up a mitten, it could have been another tragedy.
I just can't imagine watching my dog die like that for 15 solid minutes and be able to do nothing. I feel so badly for the owner.
Very sad made me cry do not know how I would cope if it had happend to me :'( :'(
How horrible. That poor dog and poor owner to have to witness that.
Tbog, sorry to read about Timber my thoughts are with you.....
:'( that is absolutely terrible.
~Abby, Molly, and Penny (the honorary lab)
This is soooo sad, it makes me want to hug Chester and Bowdee and tell them how much I love them. I don't think I could handle this, my dogs are my life. It must be even harder watching what is happening when you don't know what is causing it and what to do.