When someone rescues an animal from a dangerous situation, their actions are generally praised for their kindness or bravery and treated as a hero. You certainly wouldn’t expect that by saving an animal in danger that you would get fired from your job for your actions. Bizarrely, that is exactly what happened to one man who saved a kitten at his workplace. Even though it was after his shift had ended when he rescued the kitten, he was fired for not following the orders of his boss, says Cole and Marmalade. Getting this news was a big shock for him, especially after he had worked for the same company for 14 years.
On October 30, 2019, Chris Small turned up for work as a car-man for Norfolk Southern Railroad just as he had every other working day for the last 14 years. That day, he was working at a train yard in Louisville, Kentucky. One of his tasks is inspecting the trains, which is what he was doing when he heard a cat meowing from the track behind him. While he was inspecting the trains, Chris kept an eye out for the kitten along the track. As he went down the track, the meowing got louder, and he expected to see an injured kitten. However, he still could not see anything along the track. It was then that he realized that the noise was coming from inside one of the carts.
Chris peeped through a crack in a seal and saw the kitten trapped inside. He spoke to his boss to suggest they take the tank car into the shop to remove the cat. His boss disagreed and said that the kitten could escape on its own, so he should just get back to work. However, Chris was still worried that the kitten could not escape and that he had no idea how long it had been trapped without food or water. Although Chris wanted to follow his boss’s orders, he also wanted to make sure the kitten got out safely. He decided that it was possible to do both by ringing animal control. Unfortunately, it was after 7 pm, so the animal control office was closed. Instead, he promised the kitten that he would help to get it out if it was still there when he finished his shift.
When he had finished his shift, Chris could still hear the meowing. He checked that the tank cart wasn’t due to leave before getting some trash tongs from the shop. He then used the tongs o clear the crack from where he had seen the kitten. This allowed Chris to get a clearer view of the inside of the tank, and he was shocked by what he saw. There wasn’t just one kitten in there, but there was only one still alive. Two of the kittens looked like they had been stillborn, while a third looked as though it had lived for a few days after being born. Chris reached into the tank to grab the living kitten.
He put the tiny kitten into his pocket, where she curled into a ball and fell asleep. It was probably the first time she had been warm since her birth. Chris then went to speak to his boss to let him know that he had rescued the kitten, and the response he got was not what he expected. His boss congratulated him for rescuing the kitten, but then went on to tell him it had probably cost him his job. Sure enough, the following day Chris received a phone call before he had left home for work to tell him he was fired pending an investigation. He was also told that if he stepped on the property, they would have him arrested for trespassing.
Many people would consider firing an employee for rescuing a kitten an extreme action to take. What is even more bizarre is that the railroad company had posted on their social media page on October 29 celebrating National Cat Day. Their post told the tale of the railroad’s yard cat, and how the employees would feed it. They praised their employees for their hard work. Just 48 hours later they were firing an employee for the type of actions they had praised just days earlier. This has caused an uproar, and many members of the public have been vocal about their opinions regarding the company’s actions in firing Chris. The story has also raised issues about the animal protection laws in Kentucky.
The Animal Defense League released a report that states Kentucky is the worst state in terms of animal protection. However, there are laws in place that say people will be charged with a felony if they mistreat an animal in such a way that the animal is seriously injured, or it dies. Since the kitten was rescued, she has settled into her new home with Chris. He has called her Promise because he promised that he would rescue her no matter what. He has kept his promise by not only rescuing her but also welcoming her into his home.
He took the kitten for a checkup after the rescue and was told that Promise was only around two weeks old. She was given a clean bill of health, so Chris was allowed to take her home. Chris’s Beagle-Bassett mix is now acting as a surrogate mother to the kitten by letting it curl up next to her for warmth. She has settled in with Chris’s family amazingly and her future looks good. Unfortunately, while Promise has got plenty to look forward to, Chris’s future was less certain. His kind actions led to him losing his job and he is currently unemployed. The investigation went ahead, and Chris met with union representatives regarding the situation. The conclusion of the investigation was that Chris’s actions were not in breach of company policies, and a decision was made to reinstate him. The company has apologized for its actions and pledged a donation of $10,000 to an animal protection organization in Louisville.