West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 14 | September 5 - 11, 2007

Villager photo by Tequila Minsky

Socha recovering after she stepped in a puddle on Thompson St. last Wednesday and received an electric shock.

Lab is a lucky dog, survives electric shock in Soho

By Tequila Minsky

Soho resident Jon Doran was going out for his morning cup of joe Wednesday and walking up Thompson St. with his yellow lab, Socha. They were forced to take a slight detour since the film crew of the Biography Channel had commandeered the sidewalks adjacent to the handball courts at Spring and Thompson Sts. while shooting promos.

Crossing back to the west side of Thompson, midblock, Socha (pronounced Sasha) stepped into a puddle in the street near the curb in front of 105 Thompson St. and began yelping and squealing like Doran had never heard before. The dog stiffened and fell into the water. Doran pulled her out — all 80 pounds, of what felt like dead weight. Socha appeared O.K. and her owner was mystified. A passerby, who witnessed these events, told him, “Your dog has been electrocuted.”

(While Socha clearly had received a severe electric shock, she wasn’t electrocuted, since “electrocuted” means to be killed by an electric charge.)

In the middle of the puddle, there was a manhole.

Immediately — the time was 10:48 a.m. — Doran called 911. While waiting for first-responders, he policed the puddle so no one else would wander into it. At 12:15 p.m. he called 911 again, pleading for someone to respond. At 12:38, almost two hours from the first call, police finally arrived, followed shortly after by firefighters. The area was cordoned off.

Then, Con Edison workers came and tested the manhole. It was determined there was stray voltage on the service box cover to the tune of 100 volts, which is less voltage than an electric outlet, according to Con Ed spokesperson Chris Olert.

“If anyone even suspects stray voltage, in a public or private place, they should call: 1-800-75-CON-ED,” Olert said. “We have an extensive program to test for stray voltage.” Olert also mentioned that the manhole had been tested in June and there had been no evidence of stray voltage then.

Con Ed continued to work on the manhole in the afternoon, and by nightfall it still remained cordoned off.

“This really rattled me, “ Doran said. Although Socha seemed fine, Doran said he was taking his dog to the vet to get her checked out.

Attention has focused on the safety of Con Ed’s street utilities since Jodie Lane, 30, was electrocuted on E. 11th St. in January 2004 after falling on a slush-covered junction box. Lane had been walking her two dogs by the curb when they stepped on the junction box’s electrified cover and the dogs began shrieking and howling in agony. Lane had been trying to help the dogs when she succumbed to the electric charge.

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