From Post-it's To The N.Y. Post
A leaking lamppost killed an innocent dog Zorro, in the West Village in the winter of 2001. I read this disturbing piece in the New York Post and recognized the pervasive danger of the ubiquitous voltage hazard to the multitude of oblivious owners and their canine charges. The streetscape is replete with tampered equipment and the world is now a transformed pedestrian landscape of increasingly techno-distracted walkers.
My advocacy began with this very article, a pen, a steady supply of Post-it's, and my heart. I never imagined that this sincere and primitive outreach would evolve into Streetzaps.com. Nor did I ever suspect I'd view my work on display at the New York Historical Society's Petropolis exhibit; appear in the New York Press as the Best Homegrown Public Service Announcement; or as an editorial topic in New York Tails, City Tails, Animal Fair, Baltimore Sun Mutts, The New York Times, and of course, The New York Post.
When I penned a simple "WATCH WHERE YOU WALK YOUR DOG!" flyer, I ultimately found myself testifying at the City Council's First Sidewalk Safety Hearing (2/12/04) after the Jodie Lane tragedy having crafted the only known public service. Sadly, I had been eerily prescient. What I had recognized in the Post piece is now the accepted street wisdom that pedestrians and their pets are progressively more at risk and will be for many years to come.
History Of Contact Electrical Voltage In New York City
In 1882 a messenger reported to Thomas Edison that the horses appeared to be "dancing" on Pearl Street from voltage leakage from a service box. In the intervening years, contact voltage has tragically claimed children, adults, dogs, and even more horses. As recently as January 2006, a reinsman remarked that something had spooked his horse on W. 50th St. causing it to bolt, inducing self-injury and pitiably, euthanasia. Perhaps the ubiquitous hidden hazard commonly called "stray voltage" ensnared yet another victim.
By Elizabeth Forel, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, June 28, 2008
It was a cold and snowy day on January 9, 1999. Things were different then for the carriage horse trade. If you think they get away with murder now - it was worse then.
There was no activism to speak of - no one was advocating for the horses. The Carriage Horse Action Committee had seized to exist in 1995 after losing the battle to keep the horses in the park.
The ASPCA officers never bothered ordering the horses back to the stable when it was raining or snowing - ignoring the law that requires horses not to work during adverse weather conditions. It had been snowing all day and the ground was wet.
Jackie, a seven year old horse, was on her way back to Shamrock Stables, which was then located on the east side of Manhattan, when she stepped on a Con Ed service box cover and was electrocuted. She kicked her driver in the head, collapsed and died. Read the Full Story.
In the years that followed, the idea of being electrocuted from stray voltage emanating from a Con Ed box became more of a reality as dogs were electrocuted and a young woman was killed while walking her dogs a few years ago.
If you see any outdoor electrical fixtures that appear tampered or energized, please report them to www.streetzaps.com where you will also find year-round protective guidelines. And be assured that whatever you map on Streetzaps.com, Con Edison monitors.