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Ron Middlekauff, cameraman who rescued dog during flood, dies at 60

(Photo courtesy Ron Middlekauff, Graphic by The Desk)

A Sacramento television photographer who gained international attention for rescuing a dog in the 1990s died last month after a lengthy illness, his family confirmed this week.

Ron Middlekauff, 60, worked nearly his entire broadcast career for KCRA-TV (Channel 3), joining the Sacramento NBC affiliate in 1979.

He was most-recognizable to Sacramento viewers as the photographer who plucked a Border Collie named Rodeo from the roof of a home that was surrounded by floodwaters during a severe storm in 1997. Footage from before and after the rescue was widely broadcast on television news stations around the world, and he and pilot Michael Kidd were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for her daytime talk show the following year.

Middlekauff’s time with KCRA ended in 2009 on a turbulent note, and he sued the station and its parent company, Hearst Television, three years later. Court records reviewed by The Desk showed Middlekauff alleged his firing was related to unionization efforts at the station. The two sides settled the lawsuit in 2014, and it was dismissed a short time later.

Middlekauff continued his career with the California Channel, a political affairs network that covered legislative business at the Capitol, until the channel closed in 2019.

Middlekauff died on April 10 following a lengthy illness, his family said. He is survived by his son, two siblings and several nieces and nephews. A memorial will be held honoring Middlekauff’s life and work on May 20 at the Northminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).