Reporter Brad Woodard, an award-winning former reporter for KHOU, was found dead Wednesday. We have no word yet on the cause of death. He would have turned 52 at the end of the month.
Woodard was admired and respected by his peers, and racked up 26 Emmys during his time at KHOU and outlets in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Savannah. He covered a wide variety of stories, and was especially known for his advocacy of animals -- he won two National Press Club awards for his reporting on animal issues.
Woodard's departure from KHOU in February 2014 stunned some of his colleagues. KRIV reporter Greg Googan tweeted at the time, "Way to preserve quality #KHOU. 26 time Emmy winner Brad Woodard, one of America's finest broadcast writers, shown the door with no respect."
But the respect for the North Carolina native is clearly evident on Facebook today, with former co-workers, friends, and subjects of stories sharing their memories.
Katie Jarl, who mentored under Woodard at KHOU as part of the on-air reporter in training program, and who is now the Texas director of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote "My heart is so heavy today with the passing of a great man, a brilliant journalist, a hero for animals, and most importantly a dear friend....I was honored to be his guest at the National Press Club in DC when he accepted his award for animal reporting, an award that showcased his skill as a storyteller and his deep passion for animal welfare issues."
That award -- the Ann Cottrell Free Animal Reporting Award -- was for his work on three stories: "The Dog Factory," "BP's Voiceless Victims," and "The Incredible Inedible Lie."
According to the Ann Cottrell Free site, Woodard "spent months documenting horrific conditions at a puppy mill in Panola County, Texas," where he used a hidden camera and "captured shocking scenes of the neglect and suffering of hundreds of dogs. He purchased some of the dogs from the breeder to have them independently examined by a veterinarian. Not only did Woodard's findings result in the puppy mill being shut down, he also linked it to a prominent pet store in Houston."
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OK, that's just plain freaking awesome.
Friend and animal advocate Kelly Cripe posted "There will be much said today about what a phenomenal journalist Brad Woodard was. And there should be. As his many Emmy awards showed, he was one of the best. What I want people to know is that Brad was an incredible person, a powerful voice for animals, and one of the best friends a girl could have. He was thoughtful, genuine, funny, honest, loyal and generous."
One of our favorite remarks is from animal advocate Julie Caramante, who provided the photo accompanying this story: "My favorite picture of Brad. I had to laugh when the cats [were] climbing up his VERY expensive suit. Brad did not care, he just wanted to love on the cats."
We'd like to express our condolences to his family and friends. He will truly be missed.