Bear-punching incident bringing woman international attention

Brooke Collins of Juneau made headlines this week after she punched a black bear in her yard to save her dachshund Fudge from the bear’s grip.

The 22-year-old hairdresser became a local celebrity overnight when the story went viral, appearing in news outlets across the country and beyond.

Collins’ name has been on newspapers and websites. ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, Huffington Post and NPR are just a few examples. Radio stations from Anchorage, Seattle, Chicago and others have been asking to interview her. Even large metro papers like the Miami Herald and The Washington Post have picked this up.

Besides news sites, several dog-themed websites have been on the story as well.

The next stop could be national television. CBS has contacted Collins about bringing her to New York with Fudge and her boyfriend, Regan O’Toole, who was at the house when the incident took place.

In fact, the network is interested in this story with more than its news shows. “The Late Show with David Letterman” has also contacted Collins. She’s returned the inquiry and is awaiting a response.

She said her employer will be more than understanding if she has to leave suddenly to be on TV.

She has even had to juggle opportunities, as shows have asked for first-appearance priorities.

Collins said her biggest “wow” moment was seeing her story appear outside the country when the South West News Service from the United Kingdom contacted her.

“This is overwhelming. I never thought this would happen,” Collins said. “I feel like a celebrity.”

Collins said people on the street have recognized her, taken pictures with her or stopped to shake hands. People have gone to her at work just to say hello. She said she’s even gotten some offers to pay vet bills for Fudge.

“I’m liking a little bit of fame but at same time it’s really overwhelming and want it to go away,” she said.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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