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Originally published November 29, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Page modified November 29, 2010 at 9:52 PM

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Dog electrocuted from Seattle sidewalk power plate

Lisa McKibbin had never heard of the term "contact voltage" until her German shorthair pointer was electrocuted Thanksgiving.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Lisa McKibbin had never heard of the term "contact voltage" until her German shorthair pointer was electrocuted Thanksgiving when he stepped on a metal plate by a lamppost.

"He was totally healthy, at the height of his career. It's a bizarre death. It was noon on Thanksgiving, and me and my dog were doing our daily walk," she says about Sammy, the 6-year-old, 68-pound dog.

"Then he just started screeching and yelping in pain. I thought he had stepped on something sharp. Then he just started convulsing and collapsed.

"I reached out to help him, and he was in so much pain that he bit my thumb. I was screaming, 'Somebody help me! Oh, my God, I don't know what's happening with my dog!' "

A man performed CPR on the dog's chest, says McKibbin, and someone else opened Sammy's mouth to try and help.

There was enough electricity still in Sammy that the person got a shock from inside the dog's mouth.

The same thing happened to McKibbin.

"It was a good shock, like when you plug something into the wall and you get jolted," she says.

The lamppost had been put in by a private developer in front of the Bricco wine bar in the 1500 block of Queen Anne Avenue North, says City Light spokeswoman Suzanne Hartman.

Once approved, the post became city property, Hartman says.

"It wasn't sufficiently grounded," she says.

Hartman says the post is functioning again, and the utility is investigating.

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She says there have been no contact-voltage incidents, from current that can be present on the surface of electrified outdoor structures, that she knows of in recent years.

Asked how such contact voltage would affect a human toddler who touched an electrified metal plate, Hartman says, "I can't speculate."

As far as Sammy, "We cannot bring the dog back. I feel terrible. I'm a dog owner," Hartman says.

McKibbin can file a claim with the city and says she will be talking to an attorney.

McKibbin, 43, was laid off as an account manager and is living with her mother and another dog.

She says the death of Sammy has cost her $1,300 so far.

She and her mother, Nancy Bostdorff, drove Sammy to an emergency clinic, which McKibbin says charged some $900 for various services in trying to revive the dog. McKibbin says she had to do everything she could to save Sammy, even though she believes he died rather quickly after stepping on the plate.

McKibbin will pay an additional $432 to have Sammy cremated; she plans to spread his ashes in Discovery Park and various places where he liked to run.

McKibbin has started a blog (sammysbigheart.wordpress.com) and has posted photos of Sammy and written, "He was my best friend, my soul mate."

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com

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