(NEW Update!) Man Saves Kitten From Train Tank Car; Fired From Norfolk Southern Railroad For Disobeying Orders

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My job has no set hours. I can be found working any time during the 7 days and 24 hours of a week. So as I sit here on a Sunday writing this story, I’m affected even more at it’s content. This is because the hero of the tale will not be readying himself for the start of his workweek like millions of others. Chris Small has been a car-man for Norfolk Southern Railroad for almost 14 years. But after all those years, Chris was “treated” to a disturbing phone call on Halloween morning. He had been fired pending an investigation into an incident that had taken place the day before involving a small kitten.

Norfolk Southern Railroad has decided that Chris rescuing the kitten after his shift, is something to be fired over.

And that is because he went against his boss’s orders. His heartless and cruel orders. 

Here’s the account in his own words.

I work in the train yard in Louisville, KY. On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, I was working in the yard inspecting trains. I heard a cat meowing somewhere down the track from me, but it was dark and had just stopped raining so I couldn’t see anything. So, I began to look around as I was inspecting the cars. I expected to find an injured cat but wasn’t having any luck. As I got closer to a particular tank car, I realized the meowing was coming from inside the car. I bent down, and through a cut in the seal, I could see a tiny face. I told my boss a kitten was in the tank car and we needed to put the car in the shop so we could get it out.

He said no, to leave the cat where it was because it would climb out on its own and for me to get back to work.

Image of a Norfolk Southern Railroad Tank Car

That’s when everything changed for Chris. He couldn’t leave the kitten to die and go on each day with a clear conscience.

There was no way this tiny kitten could climb out of that tank car on her own, and there was no way of knowing how long she’d been trapped without food or water.

However, Chris still played by the company rules AND figured out a way to save the kitten’s life. 

I called local animal control services, but the office had closed at 7pm and no one was available. But I wasn’t going to leave a helpless animal to die, so I promised the kitten if it was still meowing by the time I finished my work, I’d come back and rescue it.

I finished my work and I could still hear her meowing, so after making sure that particular train wasn’t going to be leaving any time soon, I ran to the shop and got a pair of trash tongs. I went back to the tank car and used the tongs to begin pulling junk out of the crack where I had seen the kitten.

But what Chris pulled from the car was clear proof that the kitten would NOT have survived. 

Along with all the trash was 3 dead kittens, 2 looked like they were stillborn and the 3rd looked as though it had lived a few days longer.

I reached in the crack one more time and managed to grab the kitten. I pulled her out and put her in the pocket of my coveralls, where she promptly fell asleep, warm for the first time in who knows how long.

Chris then went to his boss to inform him of the situation and that the kitten was out of the car.

I went back to the shop, and my boss said, “Congratulations, you have a cat but you probably don’t have a job.”

The next day, prior to my arrival time for work, I received a phone call telling me I had been fired pending an investigation, and if I set foot on the property I would be arrested for trespassing.

Now, looking into Norfolk Southern Railroad and this unwarranted decision, I’m confused by their social media page.

On October 29th, National Cat Day and the day before the incident, they posted this on Facebook. 

Then 48 hours later, they’re firing someone for saving a kitten’s life on one of those trains? Believe me, everyone that has heard of this story so far, has been very vocal in letting the company know how they truly feel. 

And I’m sure the higher-up’s at the railroad have a slew of issues to deal with around the incident. Comments on the social media posts have mentioned the animal abuse laws in Kentucky too.

A report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranked Kentucky as the worst state for animal protection. [But] Kentucky outlaws various forms of intentional or wanton mistreatment of animals, including:

  • abandonment
  • mutilation or torture
  • beating, and
  • not providing adequate food, drink, space, or veterinary care.

In order to be considered a crime, the mistreatment must be cruel or result in the animal’s injury. Animal cruelty is generally a misdemeanor. However, anyone who intentionally tortures a dog or cat without a legal reason will be charged with a felony if the animal was seriously injured or died.

Never to see the train yards of Norfolk Southern Railroad again, Promise is happily settling into her new life.

Chris’s future is not so certain though. But that’s not Chris’s first priority right now. He made a promise to the sweet kitten and he is keeping it–forever. 

I named the kitten Promise because I promised her I’d save her if she was still meowing. I couldn’t live with hearing her cries in my head if I left her there so I kept my promise to her and brought her home.

She went for a checkup at the vet where she was given a clean bill of health. The vet confirmed she’s approximately 2 weeks old, and she’s been adopted by our Beagle/Basset mix puppy. She purrs like a champ, has a ravenous appetite, and is warm and safe and loved by all.

He has met with his Union reps and the investigation is underway. Just this morning, he posted on his Facebook page that, “I did a interview with W H A S today, I hope they do it justice.”

This is not a story about me. It’s a story about promise, and how her cry for help wouldn’t be ignored. God put me on her path, and by doing so she changed mine. This little kitten cried out for help, now she has all of us. She belongs to the world, I was just the lucky one to get to meet her first. Thanks for your kind words and sharing her story.

We’re so very sorry to the Small family for all the trouble this has brought. But we’re firm believers that with your good deeds, something far better for you will come of this. Promise!

UPDATE 11/4/2019

After a flood of comments on their Facebook page, the railroad posted this today. 

Some are happy with the outcome, but others feel there is still more to address. Especially from Chris, who although happy they recognized the error of the situation, wants the supervisor held responsible. 

Chris Small – Thank you so much NS. A donation to the Kentucky humane society is a great thing to do, so how are you handling the senior general Foreman? Anything less than a termination is unacceptable.

So while Chris can return to the job that he’s held for more than a decade, he can at least come home to a sweet “purrk”. Little Promise will always be there to greet him after a long day. 

REMEMBER: SPAY/NEUTER, FOSTER, VOLUNTEER, TNR & AS ALWAYS, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!

Related Story: Verizon Worker Suspended For 3 Weeks Without Pay After Rescuing Cat From Top Of Utility Pole

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