Shooting live television means rolling with the punches, and sometimes, with the unexpected visitors.
On Tuesday, an Internet-wide debate was sparked after a Utah reporter shared a video segment of her early morning live shot. While in the dark woodsy area, Morgan Saxton’s cross to the newsroom was interrupted by a mysterious creature walking towards her.
“What you’re seeing is — actually a dog coming into our live shot,” she nervously giggled as the animal approached her. “I think it’s a dog, I’m not sure.”
Attempting to maintain her calm demeanor, Saxton told viewers, “Anyway, there’s some sort of creature below me,” before carrying on with her reporting.
Unsure of the mysterious creature’s true identity, Saxton turned to Twitter where her tweet soon went viral.
“Terrifying,” she called the incident, alongside her short segment. “A dog, maybe a mountain lion, made it’s TV debut during my morning live shot!!! What animal do you think this it is?”
Twitter users immediately sprung into action, offering opinions of what exactly they believed this furry creature was.
“Deff looks like a cougar by the tail,” one user wrote and attached a photo of a cougar underneath. “All tan body and tail to a darker end of tail with the J curve”
Some were convinced it was a dog based on its calm behavior around a human.
“No question that’s a dog,” wrote another user. “The side profile when it first enters the screen is a giveaway. Also, if that is a mtn lion and it just walks casually near people it’s the world’s first wild mtn lion to just walk casually near people”
Other suggestions from the Twitterverse included a bobcat, coyote, and fox. One user even poked fun at the situation, telling Saxton, “Cosmo the BYU mascot just walked by you.”
But the debate didn’t last for long, as professionals from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources finally weighed in on the situation. At first, the scientists tweeted that it was “difficult” to confirm the animal’s identity from the video, but said they were planning to visit the scene and search for tracks or evidence.
Shortly after, it was confirmed that the creature was in fact, canine.
Saxton kept those following along in the loop and announced the news on her Twitter.
She also shared a photo of the dog sent from his owner on her account.
“MYSTERY SOLVED: The owner of this camera-friendly fella just sent us a picture of their pup who made it’s way into my live shot this morning,” she wrote alongside the shot of his pet. “Come back anytime! #talkofthetown”
Later in the day, Saxton met up with a biology expert from the Utah Department of Natural Resources, who confirmed that the foothills were notorious for cougar sightings.
While it was possible that she could have encountered the wild animal, the KUTV reporter wrote: “they are 99% sure it was a DOG that stole the show!”
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For more visual proof, she posted two photos of the muddy paw print — one featuring a human hand alongside the animal print for comparison — on Twitter.
Added Saxton: “Scott tells me I had every right to think it was a cougar coming toward me… He says the proof is in a paw print.”
The Utah DWR also provided users with some additional facts that proved the furry creature was a dog and not a cougar.
“The ears are close together, tall and pointier at the tips. The tail appears shorter than a cougar’s tail,” the division wrote. “We checked on the tracks, and they were definitely dog tracks.”
Eventually, the far-from-camera shy dog was tracked down — and in the daylight looked nothing like a golden-colored mountain lion.
In fact, the mystery animal was an elderly black shepherd mix.
“MYSTERY SOLVED: The owner of this camera-friendly fella just sent us a picture of their pup who made it’s way into my live shot this morning. Come back anytime!,” Saxton captioned a photo of the dog.