Midwest utility questions after dog electrocutions

The Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications (DTE) recently ordered NStar and Gas Corp. to investigate what led to the fatal electrocution of a one-year-old boxer puppy named Cassius on the street in Allston, Mass., and the electric shock received by an English Labrador in Beacon Hill, Mass., at the beginning of the month.

Last year, under orders from state regulators, NStar launched a crash inspection of 24,000 manhole covers, 18,000 of them in the Boston area. The company reported last April that “99.9-plus percent” had no stray voltage that could harm dogs or people and stressed that every shocked dog case involved either electrical gear it didn’t own or cables that had been damaged by contractors.

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said it’s time for the DTE to do something. “Consumers deserve safe and reliable service,” Reilly said. “That means identifying and eliminating places where live electricity threatens public walkways.”