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Dog electrocuted by exposed wires inside park utility box

March 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A dog named "Brownie" may have become a hero by accident after saving park visitors from a hidden electrical hazard.

The dog was electrocuted as he stepped on the metal cover of a utility box in the ground. Officials blame vandals who may have been trying to steal copper.

On a Monday morning walk through San Pascual Park with his owners, he suddenly howled. Michel Giraldo went to the trembling dog.

"His body was still moving so I thought his little legs were still twitching and his face was too, so I thought maybe he was still alive, maybe going through some sort of attack," said Giraldo.

Michel soon realized that electricity had energized a metal plate on top of a buried utility box in the grass.

"As soon as I grabbed his leg, the current just hit me. I felt the electricity go through my arm, so I already knew that's what it was," said Giraldo.

The hazard was created when thieves apparently stole copper wiring from the utility box.

LADWP and L.A. Parks and Recreation staff found evidence that vandals opened the vault but couldn't take anything because the line was electrified. The thief left a stripped wire in contact with the metal lid.

Metal theft is a persistent problem across the nation. City workers say they struggle to protect pipes and lighting in 420 parks.

"And they also steal irrigation pipes from the sprinkler systems. Those are copper. They're looking to make a quick buck," said Kevin Regan, assistant general manager of the Dept. of Recreation and Parks.

"It could have been a kid running around instead of our dog. It could have been a child," said Giraldo.

Park officials urge residents to be on the watch for anyone tampering with equipment who is not in an official vehicle, and to report suspicious activity by calling 911.

Giraldo shudders to think what would have happened if brownie's shock had not alerted them to the hazard.

"It was my dog, and I'm really, really sad about it," said Giraldo. "But it could have been a person, and that's a lot worse."

Since 2009, DWP has been replacing copper wire with other material not nearly as valuable


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