The fatal fountain: Evelyn Page Retirement Village has since emptied its fountain where a couple’s much-loved dog recently died.
In an incident believed to be extremely rare, a dog was electrocuted after jumping into a fountain in Orewa to cool off.
The fountain is on the front wall of Evelyn Page Village in Orewa, by the pavement. Ryman Healthcare corporate affairs manager David King says that a couple was walking their dog past the village on January 26. “We understand their dog loved to have a dip in our fountains as part of its walk,” he says.
On this occasion when the dog jumped into the water she received an electric shock, became unconscious and died.
The owners were devastated and Mr King says Ryman cannot apologise enough for what happened. A health and safety investigation revealed that a fault had caused a small electric current to leak into the fountain.
The water feature was drained and the company is checking all ponds around its villages for similar problems. At this point no other issues have been found.
“We think it was a one-off, but we are taking every step to ensure that it never happens again. Our electrical contractors found that the current was enough to be fatal for the dog, but not large enough to cause a human fatality,” he says.
Orewa Veterinary Centre’s Brett Finlayson says that in his 38 years of veterinary practice, he has never heard of this happening before and describes it as just “very, very bad luck”.
However, electrician Simeon Dudley of Dudleys Electrical, who has been in the business for 25 years, says the mix of water and electricity always creates a risk and should be treated with due caution.
“I wouldn’t have a water feature with a pump in it at my place, with kids around,” he says. He suggests that any amount of current, even very low, has the potential to stop someone’s heart, which is especially a concern for babies or those with heart problems. “Technically, someone can die from a shock even from a small battery – it depends on the individual.”
He advises that although the risk is low, anyone with a water feature should ensure that they put a low voltage pump in it. Maintenance is also important. “Pumps only have a certain lifespan and they are working all the time. They need cleaning and checking once a month.”
It is also important to install a residual current device (RCD) for protection – if there is a fault in the pump, this will cut off the power. The device is often standard inside new homes, but can be retrospectively fitted by an electrician.