Meter reader blamed in dog's death

August 12, 2009 4:08:24 PM PDT
A family is suffering over the loss of their pet. It was fatally struck by a car after escaping out of their backyard and they say a power company employee checking meters is responsible.The Stooksberry family says nothing can replace the dog they called Capone, and they want answers from the company they say is responsible for letting him out of their backyard. The Stooksberrys claim a meter reader's negligence lead to the death of their beloved dog.

"He was just full of life. He had little sparkly eyes," Carla Stooksberry said.

More than just a pet, Rick and Carla Stooksberry say six-year-old Capone, a mixed breed rescue dog, was an adored member of their family and a loving companion who is no longer with them.

"It's very, very sad and I think especially so because it was so unnecessary, because of somebody's negligence that he lost his life," Carla said.

Last month, the couple says an employee with CenterPoint Energy left the gate open when he came to read the gas meter. Capone and their other dog escaped.

Carla said, "He most definitely should have put forth more effort to try and get our dogs put back in the backyard."

The Stooksberrys found out about the dogs' escape from their neighbors. Capone was found a few miles from home near the entrance ramp to the West Loop.

"I drove up and my first words were, 'Oh, no.' It was him," Rick recalled. "I just dragged him over to where he wouldn't get hit anymore."

CenterPoint Energy says it accepts full responsibility for what happened, admittng its employee was severely disciplined for not following procedure.

"We feel badly about this," said CenterPoint Energy spokesperson Leticia Lowe. "We have extensive training that our meter readers go through, regularly, every morning. We talk about safety. We talk about respect for property."

CenterPoint issued the Stooksberrys a check for $100 after they filed a claim. While the couple says they appreciate the apology, their hearts are still broken.

"I'd like to meet him and show him a picture and kind of let him know what trouble and pain he caused us," Rick told Eyewitness News.

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