Grand Rapids Teen Nabs Award for Saving Cat Thrown Into Traffic

peta2 Honors 14-Year-Old for Coming to the Rescue—and PETA Seeks Information on Culprit Who Threw Cat Onto the Highway

For Immediate Release:
February 24, 2017

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Grand Rapids, Mich. – A Hero to Animals Award is on its way from peta2—PETA’s youth division—to 14-year-old Gavin Orlowski, who was riding with his mom, Erin Brown, on I-196 on Saturday, February 11, when the pair reportedly saw someone in the white utility van ahead of them throw a cat out the window. Without hesitating, the teen asked Brown to pull over, jumped out of the car, stopped traffic, and grabbed the terrified animal. They took the male cat to a nearby veterinary hospital for treatment. His injuries included head trauma and soreness from the fall—and his claws were ripped out as a result of his efforts to grip the asphalt.

PETA is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and cruelty-to-animals conviction of the person(s) responsible for throwing the cat out of the van.

The incident has reportedly cemented Orlowski’s goal of becoming a veterinarian. Brown told peta2, “It’s crazy this has gotten so much attention, because as Gavin says, ‘It was just the right thing to do.'” The family decided to adopt the cat, who is now named Lucky.

“Thanks to Gavin Orlowski’s quick thinking, this terrified cat was spared a horrific death on the highway,” says Senior Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “peta2 hopes his kindness and selflessness will inspire other young people to come to the aid of animals need.”

peta2—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—encourages everyone to speak up whenever an animal is in danger and offers tips for reporting cruelty to animals on its website.

peta2 will feature Orlowski on its Heroes page. He’ll also receive a framed certificate and vegan catnip toys for Lucky.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact PETA’s tip line at 757-962-8266.

For more information about helping animals, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind