Before trash gets dumped in the garbage machine at the Gorkomhoz Utility Center in Russia, the items inside each bag get checked for metal. This ensures there won’t be any issues when the garbage gets crushed inside the machine. However, on December 21, 2020, a center employee by the name of Mikhail Tukash discovered something still living inside one of the garbage bags.
If Tukash hadn't glanced at a seemingly lifeless pile of trash, it would have gotten crushed with the rest of the many piles of garbage that are brought to his worksite every day. And if it wasn't for his quick thinking and swift action, his employers might have had a very different story to tell.
Trash Collecting is a Tough Job
Trash collectors around the world know that at most times, they have a pretty thankless job. Not only are they dealing with the waste items of strangers, but they also have to make sure that nothing gets into the trash that shouldn't, which might be harder than it sounds.
There's No Time To Check Everything
If you've ever encountered a trash collector, you'll know that they have to stop at dozens, if not hundreds, of houses each day to collect a week's worth of garbage. To do so, the trash collectors simply don't have time to check each and every bag to make sure there's nothing strange lurking inside.
Strange Things Are Thrown Away Every Day
Most people throw away food waste and unwanted items around the house, but every once in a while, trash collectors will find something truly weird, like an object that has never been used, or an old family keepsake that could have been taken to a thrift store. But what one Russian trash collector found pretty much broke his heart.
He Wasn't On the Lookout For Anything in Particular
When Mikhail Tukash started work sorting trash on a snowy day in December, he didn't expect the day to be any different from any other day at work. His job is to sort trash that has already been collected to make sure that the items that are about to be crushed won't hurt the company's machinery.
But Something Was About to Catch His Eye
When Tukash was working, he swore that the bag of trash headed towards him was moving, but he wasn't about to let something spook him while he was working, so he approached the situation more rationally. But when he lifted up the bag to check its contents, his heart sunk to his stomach when he realized that there was something moving inside...
His Job Stunk
Most people would think their job stinks, but Mikhail Tukash’s job was literally a total stinker. That’s because he didn’t work in the pristine looking offices of a startup or sit behind a desk from 9 to 5.
The Day Was Complete Garbage
Tukash walked into the Gorkomhoz Utility Center at the Zavolzhsky District in Russia on December 21, 2020, just like he had every other work day since he started this job. But he had no idea that something about this day was going to turn out completely different.
Trash Management is a Process
Most people don’t realize that trash management is more than just collecting garbage bags and sending them to a land fill to decompose. Before the trash gets to its final destination, it must undergo a process that Tukash knows all too well.
All Garbage Goes on a Conveyor Belt
First the garbage truck brings the garbage that’s been collected around the city to the utility center. Then, the employees cut the bags and throw all the garbage into a conveyor belt. And that’s when the nasty part of the job begins.
The Look for Metal Objects in the Bags
Tukash and the other employees have to sift through the stinky contents to ensure that there’s nothing metallic inside the bags. If they find anything, they remove it before sending it to the garbage machine. But there was something about one garbage bag in particular that was very unusual.
Garbage Bags Can Be a Mystery
Generally, the workers have no idea what they’re going to find when they rip open a garbage bag. The only thing they know for sure is that they’re stinky which is why they prefer to wear masks when doing this part of the job. But one thing Tukash never considered he’d be doing at work that day was rescuing a life.
Tukash Got to Work
As the conveyor belt brought in a new batch of garbage, Tukash and his fellow workers got to work right away. But when he picked up one white garbage bag, he had no idea that there was something lurking inside.
Something Crawled Out of His Bag
It hadn’t moved. It hadn’t made a sound. So, Tukash didn’t realize that there was a living breathing thing inside the latest bag he had grabbed. But when he cut the bag open, everyone turned and looked to see what had come out of Tukash’s bag.
It Had 9 Lives
Tukash and his fellow workers were in a state of shock because inside one of the bags was a cat. Had he used one of his nine lives to survive? Probably not, but he got pretty close to losing one when Tukash had cut into the bag. Fortunately, the feline wasn’t hurt. But how did it get inside the garbage bag?
The Cat Was Out of the Bag
It was a gorgeous cat with black and white fur. The workers were so surprised by the discovery that they stopped the belt line and took a moment to reflect on what they had just discovered.
The Cat Looked At Him
"I felt something soft inside the bag," Tukash explained to the tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets. "I cut the bag open slightly and I saw eyes looking back at me." Once the initial shock had passed, he felt like he wanted to cry. "Why would someone do this to a cat?" he thought to himself.
They Had Proof on Camera
Since the employees knew that they were being filmed by the company’s cameras, one of Tukash’s co-workers pointed at him and the newfound cat that had popped into all of their lives. But was the little creature okay after its journey to the waste management site?
The Cat Seemed Perfectly Fine
There didn’t seem to be any signs of injuries on the cat and there weren’t any indications that he was malnourished. This confused the workers a great deal. Healthy, happy cats that have good homes don't often jump into garbage bags. So, what was this cat’s deal anyway?
They Took It to a Veterinarian
Tukash and the other workers didn’t want to leave anything to chance, so they took the cat to a veterinarian to get it checked out. And what they discovered there confirmed what they already knew. This kitty was one lucky son-of-a-gun. But how he got in the bag was no accident.
Someone Dumped Him Intentionally
The more and more they thought about it, the more Tukash and his co-workers realized that someone had tossed a healthy cat inside a garbage bag and then dumped it. But would they be able to find the person responsible?
The Humans Who Did This Were Garbage
There are no words to describe anyone who would toss a living animal in the garbage like this. And as far as Tukash was concerned, this was a symptom of a growing number of people who are nothing more than garbage themselves. But who did this and why?
Finding the Owner Would Be Difficult
Finding the cat’s original owner was going to be impossible. It wasn’t like he had a collar with his human’s personal information on it. Regardless of who the guilty party was, it seemed like this person was heartless, but at least the cat was safe now. And he was destined to become a VIP around the world.
He Was a Christmas Miracle
The original owners might have forgotten about their cat, but the workers at Gorkomhoz and the officials of the Ulyanovsk Region did not. They considered the feline to be a Christmas miracle, as they found him days before the holiday. But that’s not all the praise that this lucky cat received.
He Earned a New Title
The cat was given the prestigious honor of becoming the Deputy Minister of the Animal Protection Department by the Nature and Cyclical Economy Ministry of Ulyanovsk Region. But would his new role come with a name for this anonymous feline?
He Needed a Name
The cat was a Deputy Minister without a name, and as of this post, it still doesn’t have one. But they plan on throwing a cat naming contest in the near future. The Ministry also hasn’t revealed what his duties are going to be either, but it’s a safe bet that one of the responsibilities include staying cute. And he’s not the only one in this situation who got praised.
Tukash Received a Bonus
Tukash was the one who found the cat, so obviously, he was given recognition for saving the feline. His reward was an added bonus to his pay, which undoubtedly came in handy because of the holiday season. Meanwhile, the cat quickly earned celebrity status.
The Cat Became a Celebrity
Footage of the cat’s miraculous rescue was aired on television news outlets and on social media. This quickly turned the cat into a local celebrity as hearts melted over the adorable creature who nearly met his demise in the cruelest way possible.
The Cat Could Have Died
"The cat was on the brink of death," explained the ministry on Wednesday December 23, 2020. "A little longer and it would have ended up in the trash separator," they added. But this wasn’t an isolated incident.
Other Animals Have Gotten Dumped
This was not the first time that a pet was rescued from the clutches of a trash separator. According to Moscow’s local television, there have been others, including an African hedgehog named Vezunka, which is Russian for Lucky.
Environment Minister Appealed to Pet Owners
Gulnara Rakhmatulina, the environment minister had this to say to the people of her country, "I want to appeal to pet owners: remember that you are responsible for those you have tamed. If you can't keep your pet at home, you can always leave it in good hands or at a shelter."
Another Cat Made a Similar Journey
Cats sometimes find their ways into strange spaces, like laundry hampers and cardboard boxes, but not many cats find themselves in a closed crash bin with no way to escape. But that’s exactly what happened to one unfortunate kitten, who did not get there by accident.
It Wasn’t The Cat’s Fault
After hidden camera footage of a woman throwing a cat into a garbage bin was noticed by the camera’s operator, there was a serious inquiry into the cat’s wellbeing and the woman’s whereabouts. Endangering an animal is a serious crime and doing so intentionally could land anyone years in jail.
The Footage Was Used as Evidence
It was obvious that this woman knew exactly what she was doing and there was no practical reason in sight to harshly throw this cat away. A better option would have been to call animal control, who can safely capture a stray animal, but the journey of this cat wouldn’t be so simple.
The Cat Was in Extreme Danger
When a cat is thrown in the garbage, it may not be noticed by trash collectors, who simply make sure all of the garage in a bin is put onto a truck to be further sorted and then disposed of in a landfill or incinerator. That’s why it is so dangerous to let animals in trash bins, as some trash sorters soon found out.
It Was Unrecognizable
By the time this kitten reached the trash sorting facility, it had been on a harrowing journey. Its fur had been mangled by the tumbling trash around it and its face was coated in a sticky substance that limited its ability to breath. It almost was unrecognizable as a cat, which is why it nearly went unnoticed by the workers at the facility.
After a Good Cleaning, The Truth Was Clear
Some of the workers who noticed the cat almost didn’t believe that it was a real, living and breathing creature. But once the substance was wiped away from its face, it was clear that the live cat needed some serious help getting out of its current predicament, which was exactly what the crew at the trash sorting facility was about to do.
Its Recovery Wasn’t Over Yet
The cat from the trash had become tangled in pieces of plastic bags, which made it difficult for it to move its limbs. The cat met a similar fate to the Russia kitty and was saved from a New Jersey recycling plant’s conveyor belts that were heading into a glass crusher. But this cat was almost harder to find because it had found its way into a backpack as well.
It Had a Harrowing Journey
The Burlington County Recycling Center where the cat was found said that the kitten survived a night in the bitter cold buried under more than two tons of garbage. A worker named Barrie Donaldson noticed the cat’s movements and stopped the conveyor belt just moments before it would have met a sad fate.
The Trash Sorters Were Stunned
Donaldson recalled, “I looked at it real closely and they were moving. And I was like, ‘Oh wow, there is something in this bag.” Another employee remembered the sounds and sights of the oncoming glass crushing machine, saying, “I looked to my right and I see all the teeth going. That would have been horrendous.”
The Cat Has a New Home
Donaldson continued, “They just popped their head up and meow, meow. When I heard that, I knew they were alive and alright in that moment.” The cat was later adopted by one of the employees and named Precious. The employee said, “Right away, I said I gotta have her,” when recalling the moment that she laid eyes on her new kitten.