Xcel, Others Sued Over Deadly Dog Electrocution

Dog Owner: 'This Didn't Have To Happen'

A Denver man is suing Xcel Energy and at least three other companies for negligence after his dog was electrocuted on what his lawyers describe as an "unmarked" construction site.

Scott Evans was walking his dog Asha across a parking lot on West 38th Avenue in Denver last October when Asha brushed against a metal rebar stake sticking out of the ground and began yelping.

“It was bloodcurdling howling,” said Evans.

It turns out, the spike had been driven too far underground, directly into a live electrical line. Evans’ lawyers said the stake sent 277 volts through Asha, killing her.

“It was the result of gross negligence,” said Jennifer Reba Edwards, Evans’ attorney at the Animal Law Center. “They did not properly mark the area. They inserted these metal rebars and pierced an electric line.”

Edwards said it appears at least one of the companies involved with the project -- Xcel, Palace Construction, Piper Electricity or Sabell’s Enterprises -- failed to get clearance to dig from the Utility Notification Center of Colorado.

“They should've taken the proper steps to ensure the safety of the public,” said Edwards.

But Sam Sabell, owner of Sabell’s Enterprises, told 7NEWS that he and others did take safety measures, and were aware of the location of the live electrical line.

“The line had been pointed out. We thought we were clear of the line and we were pounding them in, so we didn't think we had an issue,” said Sabell. “It was a freak accident.”

Sabell said he brought up the possibility that the stakes, which measured 24 to 30 inches, were too long for an electrical line that was buried 18 to 24 inches underground. But Sabell said others disagreed and he was overruled.

“I bear some responsibility, yes,” said Sabell. “But also I was instructed to do this.”

Sabell said he has decided to never use stakes that long again.

Xcel Energy officials would not comment on the lawsuit, saying they had not had an opportunity to view it. Neither Palace Construction, nor Piper Electricity returned calls seeking comment.

Evans said the purpose of the lawsuit is not to seek retribution, but to simply make sure that no one else is hurt.

“It's just about getting awareness out so this doesn't happen again,” said Evans. “Because it could've been a child. It could've been myself.”