MOSCOW (AP) — More than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for a Russian train conductor to lose her job after she threw a pet cat off a train, believing it was a stray.
The white and ginger tom cat, known as Twix, escaped from his carrier on a train traveling between Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg on Jan. 11. He was found by the conductor, who forcibly ejected the animal from the carriage while the train was stopped in the town of Kirov, east of Moscow.
Hundreds of people banded together in sub-zero temperatures to search for the animal, who was later found dead on Jan. 20, a little over half a mile from the train tracks where he had been left. Volunteers reported that Twix had perished from the severe cold and suffered a number of suspected animal bites.
The incident has sparked widespread outrage in Russia, with thousands following the story on dedicated social media accounts. Others reshared viral footage of the cat being dropped into the snow in temperatures approaching -22 Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius).
A separate petition calling for criminal charges to be brought against the conductor had gathered more than 100,000 signatures on Sunday, after being published online on Jan. 19.
Local authorities have so far declined to prosecute the conductor, who has not been publicly named.
In a statement, Russian state train operator RZhD said that it “sincerely regretted” the death of Twix, and vowed that it would change its rules on how employees should approach unaccompanied animals.
“We sincerely regret the death of Twix the cat and apologize to his owners,” the company said in a statement on social media.
“To ensure similar incidents will not happen in the future, amendments are already being made to the documents used to transport pets on long-distance trains. Conductors will be prohibited from disembarking animals from carriages: instead, animals will be handed to station workers who can contact animal welfare groups.”