Sacramento Press reported that a long-time employee of the 7Up Bottling Company lost his job simply for feeding hungry cats.
Larry Ottoviani had been warned several times by his supervisor to not feed the cats, and his official notice of termination stated that he had violated his “last chance agreement not to feed the cats on company time and/or company property.”
Ottoviani does not deny feeding the cats, but he does deny doing so on company time or company property.
“The FDA states that we must ensure that the grounds around the food plant under the control of the operator shall be kept in a condition that will protect against the contamination of food," says company spokesman Jason Genther. "Over the years we have seen an increased presence of feral cats on our property.”
Ottoviani believes that if it weren’t for him there would be far more cats on and around company premises.
In 2008, two local animal advocates discovered Ottoviani feeding cats. When they saw how many cats there were, they immediately began working with him to institute a Trap/Neuter/Return program.
Volunteers from the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) helped sweep and clean up shards of broken glass in an unused area adjacent to the 7Up Bottling Company before launching an aggressive trapping program.
Between August 2008 and December 2009, 71 cats were trapped and taken to the SSPCA.
The costs for altering the cats were paid by donations from the volunteers and from grant funds. Ottoviani took home some of the tame cats and kittens, later finding homes for them.
Ottoviani still believes he did the right thing. “I acted according to my conscience”, he said.
If you want to help Larry Ottoviani get his job back, you can join the hundreds of people who have posted their comments on 7Up’s Facebook page or sign the Reinstate Larry Ottoviani petition.
Image by Heather Ireland