NS Reinstates Carman Fired for Saving Kitten in Tank Car

A Norfolk Southern carman in Louisville, Kentucky, has his job back after being fired for rescuing a kitten from a tank car.

Chris Small was initially terminated pending an investigation, but the company decided that what he had done did not merit dismissal.

The Class 1 carrier even agreed to make a donation of $10,000 to an animal welfare agency in the Louisville area.

Small told a Love Meow, a website for cat lovers, that he was at work when he heard a kitten crying from inside the car and could see its face from the outside through a cut in the seal.

He told his supervisor about it, but the supervisor responded that Small should leave the cat where it was and it would crawl out on its own.

Small had asked that the tank car be put into a shop so the kitten could be rescued.

Thinking it unlikely the cat would be able to get out on its own, Small used a pair of trash tongs to remove debris from the car and reached in with his hand to pull the kitten to safety.

He told the website that he told the kitten that if it was still crying when he finished his shift he would go back and rescue it.

“The office (of local animal control services) had closed at 7 p.m. and no one was available. I wasn’t going to leave a helpless animal to die,” Small told the website.

Small said the kitten was still crying when he finished work so he ascertained that the train with the tank car wasn’t going to move soon.

“I reached in the crack one more time and managed to grab the kitten,” Small said. He dried the kitten off and placed her in a pocket of his coveralls.

“She promptly fell asleep, was warm for the first time in who knows how long,” Small said. “I went back to the shop, and my boss said, ‘Congratulations, you have a cat but you probably don’t have a job.’ ”

Small said the next day he received a phone call informing him he had been terminated pending an investigation and if he came onto railroad property he would arrested for trespassing.

The story then made it onto Facebook where NS was raked over the coals by animal lovers.

In response, NS wrote that it doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations involving employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.

However, it said that Small had not yet been terminated.

NS subsequently issued a statement saying that after reviewing the facts of the case management had decided Small’s actions did not warrant dismissal. He has since returned to work.

“We recognize the concerns raised and to underscore our long-standing commitment to the safety and well-being of animals, Norfolk Southern will be making a donation in the amount of $10,000 to an animal welfare organization in the Louisville area.,” the statements said.

Small said he named the kitten Promise after the promise he made to it that he would come check on it when he finished work.

Promise has had her first vet visit and was given a clean bill of health. She was estimated to be two weeks old.

However, Small said that her litter mates who were in the tank car with Promise did not survive.

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