updated 07/07/2011 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/07/2011 AT 3:00 PM ET
As he was crossing New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on July 2, animal control officer Brendon Ocasio thought he saw someone throw a ball of trash out of a moving car.
Moments later, he realized the unimaginable had happened.
“When it hit against the wall, he saw it was moving,” Richard Gentles, a spokesman for New York’s Animal Care & Control tells PEOPLE. “He realized it was a kitten, and it started running to the Brooklyn side of bridge.”
Ocasio jumped into action. He safely pulled over his vehicle in an effort to rescue the little gray kitten.
“It was scary, he made sure nobody was behind him,” says Gentles.
As some concerned truck drivers helped block traffic on the busy roadway, Ocasio scooped up the 5-week-old cat, who by then was standing at the edge of the bridge. The male Russian blue was immediately taken to AC&C’s Staten Island Care Center, where staff assessed his condition after the harrowing ordeal.
“He really was extraordinarily lucky,” says Gentles. “He didn’t fall off, wasn’t run over and didn’t sustain any injuries.”
Despite what he’s been through, the kitten, who was affectionately named Verrazano, is friendly and has a healthy appetite. He’s currently waiting to go to a foster home, where he’ll stay until he’s old enough to be adopted (at about 8 weeks old).
“We have to hold him for three days to see if the owner comes forward to claim him,” says Gentles, adding that Ocasio wasn’t able to see the driver of the vehicle who tossed the kitten because it all happened so fast. Anyone with information can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gentles hopes Verrazano’s survival story will stop such horrible acts from occurring in the future. “If you have a pet that you can no longer take care of, bring it to a rescue organization,” he says. “We’re here to help.”