Cat-loving farmhand fired for feeding cats

May 31, 2006 at 4:01 PM
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ITHACA, N.Y., May 31 (UPI) -- Cornell University is being sued for firing a farmhand who refused orders to stop feeding feral cats at the school's animal training farm.

John Beck, 67, filed a $20 million lawsuit after being fired from the overnight shift at the 2,600-acre Animal Science Teaching and Research Center in August 2003.

He said he ignored a warning letter to stop feeding about 20 of the cats, and says other farmhands were doing it too.

Beck, who milked cows at the farm's dairy barn, used his own money to buy kibble, and took some of the barn cats to the SPCA shelter for adoption and had others fixed at the university's veterinary school.

He told the New York Post because the cats had come to rely on the farm as a source for food, they deserved to be fed.

"That's what the farm is there for, to take care of animals, not mistreat them," said Beck.

Cornell spokesman Joseph Schwartz said the university filed a motion in Tompkins County state Supreme Court last week to throw out the lawsuit.

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