Valleywide Focus

BURBANK : Taunts Follow Gas Company Workers

July 24, 1993|ED BOND

Taunts of "dog killer" have been following some Southern California Gas Co. meter readers this week after one of them accidentally kicked and killed a Chihuahua in Burbank.

"I'm constantly being reminded of it," Ray Burmeister said. While walking his route, he has heard some people call out, "Hey, how many Chihuahuas have you killed today?" Burmeister was the meter reader who accidentally killed Fawn, a 7-year-old female, on Monday.

Since the incident was reported in local newspapers, the gas company has fielded about 50 angry phone calls, officials said.

"I have worked for this company for 19 years and have never had an incident of this magnitude take place before," said Gary Edsall, district operations manager for the company.

The dog belonged to Robert Brown of Sunland, who is serving a jail sentence for driving while intoxicated. Brown's brother, Doug Brown of Burbank, was taking care of two of his dogs.

"My brother's going to be heartbroken when he hears," he said.

Doug Brown does not dispute that the killing was accidental but said meter readers should have known that he had dogs on the property.

The hand-held computer that normally alerts meter-readers that dogs are at an address did not list the animals, Edsall said. The gas company is looking into the incident.

Burmeister, who was filling in for a vacationing co-worker, was faced with "more or less a frantic frenzy of three dogs all coming at him," Edsall said, including a poodle, a cocker spaniel and the Chihuahua.

Burmeister said he was pumped with adrenaline and focused on the two larger dogs in front of him when the Chihuahua bit his left heel. The small dog moved into the path of his foot when he kicked without looking, Burmeister said.

The Chihuahua flew 14 feet, hit a planter and died.

Edsall, who has apologized to the Browns, said they have asked for $300 as compensation for the loss of the dog. The request has been referred to the gas company's claims department.

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