Woman demands answers after FirstEnergy worker pepper sprays her dog

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EASTLAKE, Ohio -- A northeast Ohio woman is demanding answers after her dog was pepper sprayed by a meter reader in her own backyard. FirstEnergy calls the incident, which was caught on camera, unfortunate. But the company says the worker followed procedures to ensure his own safety.

Kimberly Frydrych's has a one-and-a-half-year-old, 180 pound English Mastiff named Charlotte.

"She's just a big giant baby," says Frydrych.

Around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Charlotte was in the backyard of her home in Eastlake, when a First Energy utility worker entered to read the meter.

"I asked him what he was doing and why he was back there with my dog back there, and he said he had a right to be back there, he was sorry, he had no choice, but he had to spray her," Frydrych said.

Kimberly's home surveillance cameras show the meter reader enter the yard. He encountered the dog and sprayed Charlotte with pepper spray.

"The dog stopped, but then charged at him again, and you can imagine, this very large dog coming at you again, so the meter reader gave him the pepper spray again and got out, he got out of the gate and was out to the sidewalk, which is again, following his training," said FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin.

"The lineman also could have knocked on the door, knowing that there was a car in the driveway and also seeing the sign that's on my fence that states that there could be a dog in the backyard," Frydrych said.

"We had notified the customer a day in advance by phone that we were gonna be in the area reading their meter," said Durbin.

Frydrych says she never received a call from FirstEnergy. She says Charlotte is recovering, but felt the effects of the pepper spray even after several baths.

"At first she was very upset, she was vomiting.  She vomited all over my house, she's rubbing her face on all of my furniture," she said.

"It's just unfortunate and we apologize for that, but the bottom line here is that our employees are trained to protect their own safety," said Durbin.

"She looks big, but she's a sweetheart," Frydrych added.

FirstEnergy says they plan to install a meter at Kim’s house that can be read automatically from the street or from a car, so a worker no longer has to enter the backyard.