Pet Safety Week highlights electrical, other risks

by | Oct 22, 2012 | News

Toronto Humane Society launches the first Pet Safety Week with Toronto Hydro

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By Katherine Ward

Officials from the Toronto Humane Society and Toronto Hydro gathered to kick off the first annual Pet Safety Week on Monday.

The groups are looking to make Toronto safer for all whether you walk on two feet or four paws.

“Over the past eight months, we have seen a number of incidents where pets were coming into the shelter having suffered from preventable accidents,” Barbara Stienhoff, director of communications for the Toronto Humane Society, told Humber News.

“Teaming up with Toronto Hydro has enabled us to push our message out in a way that we haven’t been able to do on our own.”

Dr. Jacques Messier, CEO of the Toronto Humane Society, says there are many misconceptions about animal safety.

“Everyone thinks that cats land on their feet, but they do slip and can hurt themselves,” Messier told Humber News. “Similarly lots of people know chocolate is bad for dogs, but less people realize grapes and raisins are equally dangerous.”

Additionally, there are also certain city hazards pet owners need to be aware of.

According to the event’s press release, there are over 12,000 handwells in Toronto.

The lids of these sidewalk structures were originally made of metal and can shock a person or an animal if they walk on them when the tops are wet.

This phenomenon is known as ‘contact voltage,’ and several Toronto pets have died from it.

This can also happen with other outdoor equipment such as streetlights and metal frames on bus enclosures, particularly in damp winter conditions.

Since this problem has been identified, Toronto Hydro has been in the process of scanning the streets for potential issues.

They are replacing the handwell lids with non-conductive material to make walking safer for both people and animals.

However, according to the press release, there are an estimated 2,000 handwells that have still not been changed.

According to Toronto Hydro reports, the replacement process costs about $15 million per year.

“Really there is no difference between pets and humans,” said Ben LaPianta, vice president of distribution and grid management for Toronto Hydro. “Especially when there is rain and precipitation people need to be aware and vigilant.”

These concerns as well as others are part of the key messages of the campaign.

Pet Safety Week runs from Oct. 22 – 28.