Owners of electrocuted dog sue North Vancouver, Fortis B.C.

NORTH VANCOUVER — The owners of a dog that was electrocuted on a sidewalk in North Vancouver are suing the city and Fortis B.C. for damages.

On Feb. 23, 2018, Nanami Ushiroji was out walking her dog, Coby, on the sidewalk on the south side of Carrie Cates Court near the loading bay at Lonsdale Quay.

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She says in the lawsuit filed by her and her husband, Khusro Hamidi, that during the walk, Coby, a mixed-breed dog they had owned for seven years, stepped on a grate that was on top of a junction box, yelped, jumped up and died.

“When the plaintiff Ushiroji bent down to touch Coby with her right arm, she felt an electrical-type pain in that whole arm, and felt Coby’s stiff, and what appeared as a, dead body,” says the notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

“The plaintiff Ushiroji and a bystander attempted to resuscitate Coby, but they were unsuccessful. Coby had already died.”

Rebeka Breder, an animal rights lawyer who is representing the couple, said Tuesday that what makes the case “outrageous” is that it seems the City of North Vancouver had known previously that there were problems with the junction box in the area and didn’t take the matter seriously enough.

The suit says there were two prior incidents of dogs being shocked by electricity, one of the incidents happening the day before Coby’s electrocution and another a year earlier. Neither of the two prior incidents were fatal.

“This dog really meant everything to them,” Breder said of her clients. “Coby was a son to them. They don’t have any children and Coby was a son to them. To see your own son, so to speak, be electrocuted in front of your own eyes, is traumatizing to say the least.”

Named as defendants in the case are the city, Fortis B.C., which delivers natural gas and electricity to customers in B.C., and Cobra Electric Ltd.

The defendants failed or neglected to take adequate steps to restrict or prevent public access to the sidewalk or junction box and did not post any signs warning the public of the danger, claims the lawsuit.

Work on the area done in 2017 and 2018 was conducted in a “dangerous manner” in that it created a hazard or nuisance that the junction box would be electrified over time, with the result that a person, or their companion animal walking on the junction box, would be electrocuted, it says.

The plaintiffs claim that they have suffered severe emotional injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, shock, sleeplessness, anxiety, anguish and mental distress and loss of enjoyment of life.

They are seeking general, special, aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages.

The city could not be reached for comment.

Fortis B.C. said in an email that it respects the judicial process and does not comment on matters before the courts.

Cobra Electric president Murray Berry said he had been in touch with the city, and his company was not to blame.

“The only comment I have on that is that we were hired by the city to correct the problem. The problem was [created] by somebody else other than us.”

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