Pet dog electrocuted at Washington State Fairgrounds holiday event

Dec 6, 2022, 5:04 AM
(Photo courtesy of 'Holiday Magic' Drive-Thru)...
(Photo courtesy of 'Holiday Magic' Drive-Thru)
(Photo courtesy of 'Holiday Magic' Drive-Thru)

An evening that should have been full of holiday cheer turned into a nightmare when a Gig Harbor woman’s dog was electrocuted at a local Christmas lights display.

Vyctoria Sanchez took her 9-month-old puppy, Maverick, with her when she and a friend attended the Holiday Magic walkthrough at the Washington State Fairgrounds Friday night. Maverick was training to be a service dog, and Sanchez thought it would be good to get him used to an event with lots of people.

Sanchez was enjoying the beautiful lights until her friend felt jolts of electricity in her legs near an abominable snowman inflatable. Immediately, they tried to get Maverick out of the area.

“We grabbed him to move him aside, but he just started yelping and fell to the floor,” Sanchez said.

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Maverick started convulsing and lost consciousness. Fairground medics immediately rushed over with oxygen masks, but they were unable to save him.

“The fire and police department found that the cause was a live wire underground that was on and not connected to any part of the fair. It wasn’t plugged into the lights or anything,” Sanchez explained. “And because it was raining and snowing, it just got him.”

The Washington State Fairgrounds told KIRO Newsradio in a statement that it had discovered the electrical problem underground.

“We have done a comprehensive review of the grounds and added additional enhanced safety measures to ensure the safety of our guests and staff,” the fairgrounds stated, adding that safety is its “top priority.”

For Sanchez, this is too little too late. She said she would have wanted to see these safety checks put in before an accident cost her dog his life.

“Especially with having events like this — I mean it’s all family-oriented, people go to make some really great memories with the people they love — and what happened, it definitely was a completely avoidable accident, if somebody had done their due diligence,” Sanchez said. “And it’s really important to make sure that safety is everyone’s priority.”

She can only imagine what might have occurred later on if no one had discovered the wiring problem that night.

“It took what happened to him for them to acknowledge that that was a faulty area,” Sanchez said. “Had Maverick not been there, had we not been in that area, I don’t know who would’ve had to go through that. It could’ve been a child, it could’ve been anybody.”

Now, just a month after adopting her puppy from a shelter, she is arranging his cremation. As she grieves, Sanchez tries to focus on her happy memories of Maverick.

“He was so sweet and always had his tail wagging — he loved hanging out with people,” she said, adding, “Given everything that he had been through, he always just wanted a person, and I really feel like we were meant for each other. We brought so much joy and happiness into each other’s lives in that short time that we had.”

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The fairgrounds said, in a statement, that its employees’ hearts are with Sanchez.

“Following the incident, we did everything on-site we could to assist and comfort the dog owner. We brought in a Puyallup police chaplain to speak with her as well,” the fairgrounds said. “Additionally, we have reached out to her since the incident and haven’t received a response.”

Sanchez confirmed that she had received an email and text message from the fairgrounds.

“In this situation, my priority isn’t making the fair feel better for what happened at their event. It’s focusing on my grieving, making sure that Maverick’s name is heard, and that he’s properly taken care of, because he didn’t deserve what happened to him,” she said.

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Pet dog electrocuted at Washington State Fairgrounds holiday event