Larry Ottoviani has lost his job after seven years with the 7Up Bottling Company, in Sacramento, California, for feeding hungry cats, something that helped him cope with all the stress in his life.
“I love cats and don’t like to see them go hungry,” Ottoviani told the Sacramento Press. “When I’m feeding cats I can forget everything else for a while.”
What are Ottoviani’s problems? He’s the father of a dependent adult child with severe physical disabilities, and his wife has a debilitating illness that’s required hospitalization. Ottoviani also recently had his right kidney removed because of a tumor.
Fortunately, job-related medical insurance covered most of the costs. Now that he’s lost his job, Ottoviani doesn’t know what he’s going to do. He does have covereage from COBRA, a health benefit provision that provides temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates, but as you may know from personal experience, the monthly premiums are expensive. Ottoviani isn’t sure he can make the payments.
How Do You Fire Someone For Feeding Cats?
His supervisor had warned him several times not to feed the cats, since it was in violation of U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations. But on Jan. 4, 2012, Ottoviani received an official termination letter, stating that he violated his “last chance agreement not to feed the cats on company time and/or company property.” (He does not deny feeding the cats, though he said it was not company time or property.)
From the Sacramento Press:
According to company spokesperson Jason Genthner, “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. Over the years we have seen an increased presence of feral cats on our property.”
Ottoviani believes that if it weren’t for him, at least in part, there would be far more cats on and around company premises.
Ottoviani Has Been Working With Sacramento SPCA To Help Cats
That’s because when two local animal advocates discovered him feeding the cats in 2008, they began working with him on a trap/neuter/return effort. Volunteers from the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals cleaned up shards of broken glass in an unused area next to the company before embarking on a trapping program, according to Nicole Hutchinson, one of the women who helped organize it.
Between August 2008 and December 2009, 71 cats were trapped and brought to the Sacramento SPCA, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. Ottoviani took home some of the cats and found homes for them. He kept the ones he couldn’t place elsewhere.
Take Action Now!
Larry Ottoviani was doing the company a favor, and should have been thanked, not kicked out. If you believe that Ottoviani was unjustly fired for taking care of stray cats, please click here to sign our petition asking 7Up to reinstate him. And thank you!