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The Quad-City Times | www.QCTimes.com
Dog attack stops meter readings; MidAmerican suspends task in neighborhood
By Tom Saul
MidAmerican Energy Co. has stopped reading meters in one Davenport neighborhood after a meter reader was attacked by a dog and seriously injured, a company spokesman said Monday. In a notice sent out with October energy bills, the company said estimated readings will be taken in the unidentified neighborhood until the owner of the dog calls MidAmerican and satisfactorily explains how the animal will be controlled. “Typically, meter readers can get access, but if they determine that they don’t feel safe, they can do an estimated reading and they leave information asking the (dog) owner to call and tell us how they are going to correct a problem,” said Kevin Waetke, a MidAmerican spokesman. Waetke declined to identify the neighborhood or offer details about the attack by a pit bull dog. The meter reader required several stitches to close a wound inflicted by the dog. From January through September, there have been 22 dog attacks on MidAmerican meter readers across the state, he said. MidAmerican has joined with Davenport letter carriers and Iowa-American Water Co. in supporting tougher city laws to control dangerous and vicious dogs. The drive was prompted after pit bull attacks in August and September seriously injured two letter carriers. “The incidence of dog bites has been on the increase over the past couple of years,” Waetke said. “It’s an issue for letter carriers, cable people and others who read meters. All we can do is stop taking readings until we feel it is safe for our meter reader to go back.” Mark Morrison, the regional vice president for cable television provider Mediacom, said dog bites have not been a problem for his work crews. “It’s a different situation for us. We show up to do work at a customer’s request, and if there is a problem, we can ask to have the dog put up,” he added. But spokesmen for MidAmerican and Iowa-American told aldermen last month that a large number of the injuries reported by their employees who work outside come from dog attacks. At Iowa-American, 42 percent of workers’ compensation injury cases for outside workers are attributed to dog attacks, said Dave Hanson, a customer service supervisor. At MidAmerican, in the past two years, one in four outside workers has been attacked or bitten, spokesman Bill Taylor said. Aldermen are considering changes to the city’s animal-control laws to increase licensing fees for dangerous and vicious dogs, to allow revocation of a license for up to three years instead of one for any violation of animal control laws, to give animal control officers greater discretion in deciding whether to return a dog that has been impounded and to allow greater discretion in declaring a dog vicious, even if it attacks a trespasser or is provoked.