Morgan Saxton was in the middle of a live television broadcast when something caught her eye. Standing in the darkness of the early morning, the news correspondent had been attempting to report on a story about flooding. She quickly lost her focus, though, when a mysterious creature slowly started to creep in her direction. And since then, there’s been a lot of speculation as to the identity of the bold beast…
Born into a family with links to the armed forces, Saxton had harbored an ambition to become a journalist from an early age. As a young adult, then, she studied broadcast journalism at Weber State University, eventually receiving a bachelor’s degree for her efforts. And after that, she started her career proper by earning an internship at KUTV – a CBS affiliate based in Salt Lake City.
Then, following her time as an intern, Saxton moved to Illinois and got a job with WHBF, where she worked on crime-related assignments. During this period, the up-and-coming journalist was given the opportunity to report on some big stories, too – including the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
In January 2017, however, Saxton returned to Utah and KUTV, this time as a reporter for 2News – where she works early shifts during the week, broadcasting between 4:30 and 8:30 a.m. And it was before sunrise that Saxton was faced with the mysterious animal approaching her.
The encounter with the beast came at the beginning of October 2018, after a state of emergency had been declared in Utah in response to Hurricane Rosa. Floods were therefore expected in Utah County, and so KUTV sent Saxton out to report on the situation. And standing along the side of a road, illuminated only by artificial lighting, that’s what she attempted to do.
As the reporter spoke to camera, however, she could be seen to lose her train of thought. Something from outside the shot had stolen her attention, it seemed. Then it became apparent that that something was getting closer to Saxton herself.
“A dog [is] coming into our live shot,” Saxton told the audience during the broadcast. However, as the creature edged towards her, she no longer seemed so certain as to its species. “I think it’s a dog,” she continued. “I’m not sure.”
The four-legged beast even appeared to be sidling towards Saxton. And the creature came perilously close to the journalist, almost grazing against her leg as it passed. However, Saxton remained calm as she continued to speak to camera. “There’s some creature below me,” she said, before the thing disappeared into the darkness.
And perhaps inevitably, debate soon raged online as to what the animal in question actually was. Some people sided with Saxton’s initial assertion that the intruder had been a dog; others suggested, meanwhile, that the creature had been a coyote.
One individual even proposed – although perhaps not entirely seriously – that the legendary blood-drinking beast known as the chupacabra had brushed past Saxton. Then there were those who claimed that the animal had been a mountain lion, or perhaps even a mountain lion hybrid.
So, with multiple theories as to the identity of the animal floating around, KUTV took it upon itself to find an answer. The station therefore contacted the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) to help end the debate once and for all. Ultimately, though, the department was unable to identify the creature from the footage alone, and so it decided to send out a specialist to investigate.
“Our biologists are trying to determine if the animal was a cougar,” the Utah DWR posted on Twitter, shortly after being contacted by KUTV. “From the video, it’s difficult to tell. We will visit the scene this morning and look for tracks or any other signs to help positively identify the animal.”
Then when the biologists searched the area where the creature had presented itself, a number of paw prints were found. Naturally, the Utah DWR would study these prints carefully. And after some thorough consideration, the department came to a conclusion about the animal that had seemingly rattled Saxton.
However, the verdict may have been disappointing for those who assumed that the creature had been a big cat. In October 2018 Saxton herself broke the news by tweeting, “Just spoke [with] @UtahDWR. They believe [that the animal is] a dog, based on the paw prints.”
But the theories that something scarier may have been on the prowl weren’t completely outlandish ones. After all, the area in which the footage was shot is actually known to contain cougars. There was every chance, then, that the animal may have turned out to be one of these mountain lions.
Saxton explained further on Twitter, writing, “@UtahDNR says the foothills are known for cougar sightings, [and given] the way it walked, it could have easily been mistaken for one. But they are 99 percent sure it was a dog that stole the show!”
And shortly after Saxton made her post, even this last 1 percent of doubt may have been extinguished. After catching wind of the furor that their pet had caused online, the dog’s owners sent in some images to KUTV – seemingly firmly putting the matter to rest as a result.
“Mystery solved,” Saxton subsequently tweeted, alongside a photograph of the canine. “The owner of this camera-friendly fella just sent us a picture of their pup who made [its] way into my live shot this morning. Come back anytime!”
It seems, then, that many people’s imaginations had gotten the better of them. But it’s not difficult to see why: in the footage shot for KUTV, the dog had admittedly been obscured by darkness. The animal had also been facing away from the camera, meaning its features couldn’t be closely scrutinized.
News soon spread, though, that the puzzle had been resolved. And Chase Thompson, a weatherman and one of Saxton’s KUTV colleagues, captured the exasperation that others may have also been feeling in a tweet. “We’ve all been duped by a dog!” he posted.