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Verizon urged to reinstate suspended worker who saved cat

Verizon worker suspended for saving cat

Thousands are signing an online petition urging Verizon to reinstate a worker with the wireless giant who was suspended without pay after rescuing a cat

Verizon said the employee, Maurice German, violated its safety rules when he used a company "bucket" truck's hydraulic lift to rescue the feline, "Princess Momma," from atop a telephone pole in Philadelphia earlier this month.

"Maurice German is an animal hero who saved a beloved family cat!," reads the petition, which as of Thursday afternoon had garnered more than 27,000 signatures. "Instead of being suspended, German should be rewarded for his compassion and courage."

The cat's owner had called the fire department, animal rescue and the telephone company before German, who was working nearby, responded to pleas that he help the kitty, who had been stuck for 12 hours, one resident told CBS Philadelphia

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Cat stuck at top of telephone poll for about 12 hours GoFundMe

Although German was heralded on social media for his goodwill gesture, Verizon said it suspended him for three weeks without pay because he violated the company's safety rules.

"For safety reasons, our trucks and related equipment are not intended to be used in the area in which he was operating, specifically around electrical wires," a Verizon spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. "While our actions may not be popular, he potentially put his life and those around him in jeopardy."

Verizon said it had made a donation to Pennsylvania Animal Rescue & Protection, or SPCA, to show its support for animal rescue groups.

The gesture did little to appease customers and animal lovers on social media, with the company called "heartless" and worse in a multitude of tweets online.

Others made their own donations to two GoFundMe pages set up to compensate German for his lost wages. One, set up by a Verizon colleague of German's, has raised more than $7,000, exceeding its goal of $4,650, while another stopped accepting donations after raising $3,395 for the suspended worker.