Public radio reporter helps rescue dogs while on assignment in Arizona

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A KJZZ reporter’s feature story on a citrus orchard in Arizona unexpectedly turned into a canine rescue mission this week.

Casey Kuhn, who reports from the Phoenix station’s West Valley Bureau in Maryvale, was walking through the Justice Brothers U-Pick Farm with owner Selwyn Justice when they heard plaintive dog yelps. They found three Weimaraners trapped in an old retention basin. “The reservoir was lined with black tarp, with steep, sloping sides 12 feet down, and was filled with dirty brown rainwater that reaches up to your ankles,” Kuhn wrote in a story posted Thursday on the station’s website. A radio story with audio of the rescue that also ran on the air.

Kuhn and Justice used a rope to hoist the muddy, emaciated dogs from the pit. Justice later recalled that an employee had seen one of the dogs “running from a swarm of bees two days ago.”

The dogs’ collars had tags with their owners’ contact information. Once reunited with the pets, the owners said the three had escaped during a storm two days earlier.

Kuhn told Current she was happy to see how the story circulated organically on social media, with 263 Facebook shares from the story page. Generally stories that are “very political or about hot-button issues” do well on that platform, she said.

“I think it was so popular because the story was written to be very evocative with imagery, plus the fact that I had tape to illustrate every part,” Kuhn said. “I think the benign-ness also is a fresh break from hard and sometimes emotionally painful news.”

Kuhn wrote in the piece that she “feels lucky” that she could help. “If I have to put my digital tape recorder down to help, I will,” she wrote. “And now I know I have the wherewithal to do it — and keep rolling, too.”

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