New York’s Strongest Rescue Trashed Kitten


 He’s got eight lives left. A 10-week-old kitten was spared a horrible demise thanks to some of New York’s Strongest with the softest hearts.

Local Department of Sanitation workers, John Kase and Willie Montero, assigned to Rockaway’s Q14 garage, were on their regular route in Broad Channel when they picked up a bag among a heap of trash on Cross Bay Boulevard that made an unusual noise. “I started throwing the bags in the truck and my partner, John, walked back to help me when I heard a meow. I said to myself ‘I hope that’s a toy,’” Montero told The Rockaway Times.

Montero says there are occasions where they’ll hear an animal noise, only to find a stuffed animal in the trash. Unfortunately, in this instance, their worst fears were confirmed as they pulled the bag back out of the back of the truck before they cycled it. That meow had a very real voice. Inside the tied and duct-taped trash bag was a live kitten.

Kase and Montero were shocked that someone could throw out a kitten, but they quickly took action to make sure it had a better end to its story. “It turned into ‘how could anyone do something like this’ to ‘how can we help this cat?” Montero said.

They put the young cat in a box and brought it along for the ride, but quickly found this cat wanted no part of being contained as it climbed right up on to Kase’s chest. The kitten quickly earned a name—Hopper—named after the part of the truck they throw trash into. Kase held on to Hopper as they went along their route and notified their supervisor. Supervisor Charlie Herbert notified Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue, which referred him to Rockaway Beach Vet Services to bring the kitten to be evaluated.

Herbert dropped off the kitten at the vet, where it was treated for an upper respiratory infection, but overall, Hopper is doing just fine and is ready to go to a good home. Applications are now being accepted at

Montero and Kase, both animal lovers, say they were just doing the right thing and they’re glad it didn’t turn out worse. “I’m just happy I could be a human and do the right thing. I think it’s what any human being would do in that scenario. I’m just happy I heard him before I cycled the truck and crushed him,” Montero said.

In his 18 years on the job, Montero says this is the second time he’s found a live animal in the trash. He says about two years ago, he and his work partner were picking up bulk items at an apartment complex in the winter, when they found a bin with a box of kittens that were just a few days old. In that instance, they also brought the kittens to Rockaway Beach Vet Services.

While these stories had a good ending, Montero hopes people will stop this act of throwing out animals. “It’s just cruel. I don’t believe in animal cruelty,” he said.

 By Katie McFadden

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