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Sam’s Story

SammySam was a 6 1/2 year old GSP and beloved member of a family. Tragically he was electrocuted while out on just a normal walk with his owner, Lisa, on Thanksgiving day 2010, but this walk turned out to be very far from normal.  Lisa was recently interviewed on the Today Show, and was kind enough to let us share Sam’s story on our website bringing awareness to the public of this very real problem on our city streets.  If this story saves even one life, then Sam’s death will not be in vain.

“My beloved dog Sam, a German Shorthaired Pointer, at 6 ½ years old was tragically killed while on a walk with me in Seattle on Thanksgiving Day, 2010. The city had been hit with a severe snowstorm that holiday week, so for this reason, I do not like to venture far from home to go to our normal hiking area and instead took our daily walk through the neighborhood. Never did I expect that I would not be returning home with my sweet boy.

After finishing Thanksgiving brunch, we set out on our walk, I wearing snow boots and Sam in his new down jacket that my mom had just gotten him one week prior. We came to the main drag of Queen Anne, where lots of shops and restaurants and hundreds, if not thousands, of passersby visit and traverse daily with their children and pets in tow, when I noticed in the slight distance a mother and child with their dog traveling toward us.  As they approached us, and I being unsure of how friendly the dog was, told the mother that I would step to the side and let them pass. When I moved over, Sam began to screech and wail, his body convulsing heavily.   He began to jump around as if he had stepped on something sharp.   I had no idea what was happening to him! I began to panic, and spoke to him as if he were my child, “Baby, what’s happening to you, please, let me take a look at you”.   When I reached for his paw, thinking he had some object stuck in it, Sam fell to the ground near a metal plate and light pole.  He was still convulsing as if having a seizure, and then he bit my thumb.  I had to pull it from his mouth for he would not let go.   I still did not know what was happening to my poor dog.   I could not believe what was happening, a perfectly healthy happy dog who all of a sudden was dying in my arms. I began to scream for help when two men came to Sam’s aid.  One was a nurse who administered CPR, another who said Sam had been electrocuted.   Sam could not be saved, it was too late.  As I sobbed, my reaction to the man’s conclusion that Sam died from electrocution was, “what? What do you mean electrocuted, how is that possible”?  The man then told me to stick my hand in Sam’s mouth when I felt a shock, a current go through my hand.   I still couldn’t believe what was happening, even more so that Sam had been electrocuted.  I couldn’t believe how this was at all possible, we were just walking down a sidewalk.

I had never heard of the term contact voltage.  I didn’t know what it was, what it did or why it even existed, until now.  I began to do some research on this hidden and deadly danger and found that we were all at risk that day, I could’ve been killed, the people helping Sam could’ve been injured or killed.  Sam’s death was not an isolated incident.  The City of Seattle, Seattle City Light had found numerous contact voltage problems in light poles and metal plates following Sam’s death, but have since made repairs.   However, it is important to note that contact voltage occurs intermittently and may surface even after a survey or repairs have been completed.   There have been several recent incidents involving dogs being shocked within the last month in Seattle.   If contact voltage can easily kill a dog, it can kill a human and it already has.

What I thought was going to be a great walk with my best buddy instead turned deadly.  I had always believed that all was safe walking on sidewalks, standing near, or touching a light pole, even walking on metal plates that can been seen almost everywhere.   My life has changed forever.  I hope Sam’s story can inform and help others to keep safe, be aware of surroundings and learn how to stay protected from dangerous conductive objects, such as light poles, metal plates, even fire hydrants and other metal structures.

It’s really hard to believe that Sam would be a senior if he were alive today, 10 1/2 years old.  I miss him so much, not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.  I thank my dogs everyday for loving me. Sam is a hero”.

Thank you Lisa for sharing Sam’s story with us.  Our hearts go out to you, and we are so very sorry for the pain you had to endure losing your beloved Sam.

You can watch the Today Show segment below.

The Today Show:
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