OLD TOWN — After a dog named after star running back LaDainian Tomlinson was killed by electric shock on an Old Town sidewalk earlier this week, its owner is now pursuing legal action, saying the city's investigation has been inadequate.
"Would they be just as silent if a child had died?" asked the dog's owner, Brian Malone. "I doubt it. That could have very well been a child and led to the same consequences."
Malone, 31, was out walking his mixed breed dog, LaDainian, or LT for short, in the 1400 block of North Sedgwick Street in front of the Marshall Field Garden apartment complex Monday when the dog got too close to an orange construction cone near a puddle of water.
All of a sudden, LT was "spasming and yelping like I've never heard in my life," Malone said.
Malone thought his dog was having a seizure, so he tried to administer CPR. When he did, he felt an electric shock in his hands and all the way up his calves that forced him to jump away.
In the process, LT bit Malone's hand, which caused him to bleed profusely. After failed attempts to revive the dog, LT's heartbeat started to slow down and he stopped breathing.
"It was incredibly, unspeakably violent," Malone said of the incident.
Police were called to the scene and the dead dog was taken to the vet, which is where Malone found out LT, who was six years old, had been electrocuted. The cone he had bumped into was covering a copper grounding rod.
Immediately after the incident, Malone said the area was blocked off with police tape, but that tape has since been taken down.
Management for the housing complex did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but provided a statement to NBC Chicago that reads, "We have been made aware of this unfortunate incident and are working with all authorities and contractors as investigations continue."
The city's Department of Buildings did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"The City has preliminarily concluded that there is no electrical current coming from the Marshall Field property. We will continue to support the City’s investigation as they move through their process," the statement said.
Malone said authorities still haven't explained who or what is responsible for the electrified copper rod, which is attached to a metal fence.
In response to what he calls a lack of communication, Malone is now pursuing legal action against the city and the property management group.
"I want someone to be held accountable for what they did," he said.
By filing a lawsuit, he's also looking to recoup money spent on hospital bills. Malone was treated in the hospital for voltage burns on his legs.
"The doctor said in a somber tone that I was very, very lucky," he said. "Hearing that, it's very scary. Here I am jumping in there to save my dog, and I'm potentially subjecting myself to fatal injuries. That's harrowing."
He said the victim could've easily been a child.
"There is all sorts of foot traffic there all day, every day. There are kids playing, riding bikes and throwing balls there. I see kids leaning on the fence all the time," he said.
"They say [the wire] is no longer live. But did anyone perform a formal investigation?"
In other cities like Boston and Brooklyn, there have been concerted efforts to eliminate what is referred to as "stray voltage." A 2006 Chicago Reader piece explains that Chicago officials had not put forth the same effort after other dogs were injured by stray voltage.
Malone said he wants the city to conduct a comprehensive study.
"What other areas are risks for exposure?" he asked.
"I'm also very curious as to why the authorities weren't made aware that the fence was electrified."
Hey all - Some unspeakably sad news to share, but also a warning to the many pet owners I know! My 6yo rescue mutt, LaDainian, who you've undoubtedly seen me post time and time again on here, was tragically electrocuted to death on a standard, everyday dog walk. LT had touched a fence/ground wire that had previously been 'live' and apparently there was some stray voltage running through the conduit, which also made contact with the salt/water puddle nearby. His struggle was appalling, and he fought for several minutes before his heart finally gave out. I attempted CPR but was unable to neither touch his mouth nor stand near the water for long, as I, too, could feel the voltage beginning to rise up my limbs toward the center of my body. @NBCChicago will have a special report on the story and my warning to other pet owners who bundle up to walk their dogs in the winters. The reports will air live tonight at 4:30pm & 6:00pm CST. When the ground is wet (standing water) and mixed with salt (sodium chloride, potassium chloride, etc.), the solution can act as an extended conduit for any stray voltage from a live wire, insufficient ground, etc. Please heed my warnings and avoid the following: 1. Metal grating on the sidewalk 2. Manhole covers 3. Any metal bars/rods near the sidewalk 4. Decorative/draining metal blocks around city trees It's a rare occurrence, so please don't be too alarmed. But by simply taking these precautions, you mitigate anything from small shocks to fatal electrocution for your pets who don't have the rubber soles we do to insulate them from any of the precarious conditions that may be present during the winter. For those who met/knew LaDainian, you unequivocally know he was SuperDog. He fought off 3 months of severe bacterial pneumonia, and eventually invasive open heart surgery to correct a Grade 5 heart murmur, all before he hit 5 months old. Nobody deserves to go like this, and he fought the electricity running through his body as hard and enduring as one would expect. Stryker and I already sorely miss him and hope that this message reaches pet owners everywhere. Give your pets an extra snuggle tonight... Brian
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