Investigations begin into CenterPoint contractor who hit dogs with wrench

- Several investigations, including one with HPD, are underway after a Kingwood family captures a CenterPoint Energy contractor in their backyard, slamming a wrench into their dog's face.

"The first main thing that we saw was where he had hit him. He came really close to losing his eye," said Mike Willcox.

The Willcox family said these injuries came from a March 23 incident when a CenterPoint contractor came to the Willcoxes' house. He was there to disconnect service for nonpayment.

The family said he showed up unannounced and entered the backyard where Flash and Shutter, their two 8-year-old dogs, were.

Then, you can see the contractor smashing a wrench across their face and bodies.

"Right here, in our backyard, where we're thinking it's private. It's supposed to be safe. Here's our dogs in their own backyard where they're supposed to be safe and sleep or whatever but to be woken up by a stranger five or six feet away from them...I mean, it's pretty upsetting," said Willcox.

The Willcox family said one dog has an infected jaw from losing a tooth and the other has breathing problems, adding up to at least $2,000 in vet bills.  

CenterPoint Energy has condemned the incident.

"We are reviewing our processes to ensure that CenterPoint Energy employees are always respectful of property and pets. That is a priority to us, and the video was horrifying to see. It's disturbing to see and we are very sad that this happened," Leticia Lowe, a CenterPoint Energy spokesperson.

However, CenterPoint Energy said until their own investigation is complete, they cannot definitively confirm what disciplinary actions they'll take or whether they'll pay the vet bills.

We spoke with the contractor's boss, the owner of Star Corporation, who shared a different story.

The owner said his employee had told him the family was aware the CenterPoint employee was there and when they found out he was there to turn off service, they let the dogs out. He said the contractor felt he was being attacked by the dogs.

But we reviewed the surveillance video in full -- the contractor never stops to identify himself. He pulls in and goes straight to the backyard, past this "Beware of Dogs" sign. The family said the fence was down to allow their landscapers in that morning.

CenterPoint has said their policy for employees is to retreat if they are not comfortable.

"For CenterPoint employees who are conducting work in the field, they are trained to retreat from those areas and not engage with the pet," said Lowe.

Star Corporation has said the employee is suspended and that they're investigating what happened.

As for nonpayment -- the Willcoxes said they had thought they were set up on automatic payment but weren't. They said they paid in full immediately and had the gas turned back on the same day.
The surgery for one of their dogs is scheduled for this Friday.
 

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