‘Good Family Dog’ Killed By Live Wires Downed By Storm
A family dog was killed last weekend after it encountered downed wires that were still electrified four days after Tropical Storm Isaias.
Sandy Hook residents Rebecca and John Fung had already been contending with a lack of power following the August 4 storm. Last Saturday morning, they let their dog, a 12-year-old Lab named Buddy, outside. A short time later their neighbor reached out to them, after finding Buddy’s lifeless body on her lawn.
A few days later, her voice alternating between anger and grief, Rebecca Fung talked about that morning.
“Buddy was just roaming around, probably going to use the restroom, and he stepped in the area where there was a live wire,” Fung said August 10. “He was electrocuted.”
She hopes the death was quick, she said. She hopes the dog who loved family time and tennis balls did not suffer.
Buddy’s body was not touching the wire when he was found, but there were obvious indications of the power that had surged through his body. For one, Mrs Fung said, his collar had melted.
Neither the Fungs nor any of their three children witnessed the incident.
“My neighbor found his body,” she said. “She had walked over to my house to grab water because they still didn’t have any.
“When she walked into her house she smelled fire,” Fung continued. “Then she went outside and saw Buddy lying there.”
The dog’s body was not on or touching the wires. It was on nearby grass.
“We don’t know if he stepped on the wires and the current went through his body, or if the grass was wet and it conducted it,” Fung said. “We just don’t know.”
She said representatives from Eversource had been to their road at least three times since August 4, the day of the storm. The family lives in the Pootatuck Park area of town, at the end of one of dozens of roads initially blocked by downed trees and wires due to Tuesday’s storm.
“We had two electrical fires the day of the storm,” she said. “One was right after the storm, and the second was a few hours later. We called 911. The fire department came, and they told Eversource to get down here, right now.”
An Eversource crew arrived that night, caution tape was put around the area, and the crew left.
The following day brought another visit by Eversource. In an e-mail to The Newtown Bee on August 9, Fung wrote that on August 5 “an Eversource contractor cleared our road so we could travel out and we were told to stay clear for now of the wires. In the following days we saw another Eversource worker. There was no caution tape or markers restricting access or warning us of the wires left.”
Fung knows to avoid wires, and kept her children away from the one on her neighbor’s property.
It still should not have been left without markings, she said.
“We were all walking our kids up and down the street last week,” Fung said. “Our neighbors were walking. They have a dog and a son as well.
“There was no notice or indication that we had to be careful of anything on the grass.”
In a letter shared with The Newtown Bee that was sent this week to Governor Ned Lamont and Eversource, John Fung called what happened “an avoidable incident.”
The father of three said the safety trigger on the damaged transformer did not trigger the cutout fuse, nor did the pole’s circuit trip upon grounding.
Beyond that, there were at least two visits by Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue for electrical fires, along with “several insufficient” Make Safe crews in the area, he noted.
“Action in response to any one of these points would have saved the life of our beloved pet,” Fung wrote. “Besides the gross negligence we have witnessed, even more disturbing is how easily it could have been one of my 3 children.
“We now are now questioning of the safety of the things that are supposed to be safe around us, and that sense of security is not something that will be repaired easily.”
‘A Loyal And Loving Soul’
In talking about her family’s dog this week, Fung said Buddy “seemed to have a smile on his face all the time.”
A typical Lab, “when he was excited his teeth would chatter and his excitement would come through.”
Everyone in the neighborhood knew the family’s dog, she said. No one feared him.
“The mail carrier, the UPS people, they all knew him,” she said Monday morning. “He would just walk up to you, looking for a pet. He just liked to be acknowledged, and then he’d walk away.”
Her voice breaking, Fung said Buddy was always happy.
“He was just so very, very friendly,” she said. “He was a good family dog.”
Buddy was with Rebecca and John Fung as each of their children — now ages 11, 9, and 6 — “came home,” she said.
“Thank God they weren’t out there,” she said Monday morning. “They would have definitely run over to him.
“And thank God they didn’t step on that grass area,” she continued. “That area is right on my neighbor’s property. It wasn’t in a wooded area where you have to look for it. It was conspicuously laying in the grass. It should have been marked.”
“It could have been anyone’s family,” Fung said. “It could have been anyone’s child.
“We just want them to know that they were irresponsible and they caused loss of life.”
Eversource Spokesperson Mitch Gross offered his condolences this week to the family.
“The loss of a pet is devastating and our hearts go out to the Fungs,” he said via e-mail to The Newtown Bee on August 12. “We remind customers to always stay away from any downed line they may come across, assume it is live and call 911 to report it.”