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Highway worker fired for rescuing cat from tree
Highway worker fired for rescuing cat from tree

The claws have come out in Phillipston, Massachusetts. Depending on whom you ask, it’s either a case of a good deed being punished, or just deserts for a public employee who regularly abused his authority.

Back in May, former highway superintendent Jim Mackie received a phone call asking him to rescue a cat that had gotten itself stranded in a 40-foot-tall tree during a recent storm.

So, Mackie took a bucket truck out to the scene and rescued the cat, Kaboodle.

"I went up to the top of the tree, grabbed the kitten and brought it back down," Mackie told local CBS affiliate WBZ. "Everyone was happy."

However, far from a feel good animal rescue story, Mackie’s rescue operation ended up costing him his job.

Jim Mackie rescued the cat after it became stuck up a 40-foot tree. Photo: WBZ

That’s because Kaboodle was stuck in a tree several miles outside of the Phillipston town limits in neighboring Westminster and the person who called Mackie for help was his girlfriend, Jackie Prime.

The situation escalated when Mackie phoned a local highway worker to pull the bucket truck out of the mud. It had gotten stuck during the cat rescue operation meaning that the rescue worker needed an assist of his own. The enlisted highway worker wasn’t happy and reported Mackie to his supervisors.

Mackie was suspended for two weeks with pay. After refusing some suggestions that he resign the post that he’s held for 20 years, Phillipston selectmen declined to renew his contract, essentially firing Mackie.

Mackie had been a highway worker for the past 20 years. Photo: WBZ

For his part, Mackie acknowledges that his personality has earned him some enemies over the years. But he insists that the cat rescue was not a serious breach of ethics worthy of costing him his job.

"I am pretty outspoken on a lot of things, I just don't think I was treated fairly here," Mackie told the station. "I was just trying to help her out, period. Nothing more. Nothing less. I would have done the same thing for any Phillipston employee."

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