PUBLIC outrage broke out on social media after at least 20 cats living in the vicinity of the Shangri-La at The Fort hotel in Bonifacio Global City disappeared after the hotel management commissioned a pest control firm to remove and relocate the animals.
Cats of BGC, a group of concerned residents and animal lovers in Taguig City, sought the help of the public, especially the social media users, to help them find the missing cats.
Members of the CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) Welfare Philippines also stepped into the case to address the issue but failed to find the missing animals as of press time.
CARA scoured the two locations mentioned by Shangri-La for the missing cats it had dumped, but residents and social media users claimed those areas did not exist in Taguig.
The Cats of BGC started posting angry comments on Valentine’s Day demanding the hotel management tell them where the animals were dumped or relocated as the five-star hotel management was claiming.
“We are not an animal welfare group nor a registered organization,” the Cats of BGC said in its Facebook page.
“This is just an FB page that anyone could have set up. In our about section, you could see that we are clear about what we do. We find homes, we do trap-neuter-return [TNR] with the support of CARA and PPBCC [Philippine Pest Birth Control Center Foundation] or from our own pockets, we feed, we bring them to the vet when needed [and if we have money to spare], we foster.
“Our skill set were not for managing a crisis nor starting an online war or campaign against Shang or anyone. We were using this page to reach out to more people who could adopt them [cats].
“Because we were invited by CARA and we want to find the cats, we are worried, too, like all of you cat lovers. We also wanted and demanded answers. And we also wanted to share what we knew at the time when everyone was also demanding answers.”
“We are not passive, we have just witnessed this ‘relocating’ first hand in BGC, though this has happened a couple of times. Why do you think this happens? Because not everyone are cat lovers. If there are a bunch of you who love the cats, there are probably a lot more who complain about them.
They have methods to voice their complaints for cats who jump up the restaurant tables, places reeking of cat urine/poop, demands to be responsible for hospital bills becauce they got scratched or bitten… while for animal lovers, we have generally none. That is why we are aiming for long-term solutions, and that is through TNR and education.”
The Shangri-La management sent an email to Cats of BGC on Feb. 16 saying the cats were “placed at Buting and near Kalayaan Avenue” and on Sunday the hotel came up with an official statement stating it was “residential areas on Ilaya Street and Anastacio Street, both in Taguig City.”
For its part, CARA clarified few facts on the matter.
It said that since November 2017, its volunteers had noticed that some of the Shangri-La cats had gone missing but none of the investigations led to any conclusions.
“Neither CARA nor Cats of BGC were informed of any official plans by Shangri-La Fort management to remove the cats. Neither CARA nor Cats of BGC were informed about the most recent plans to hire Pest Busters to catch and remove the cats early in the morning of February 14th.”
The next day, Feb. 15, representatives of CARA and Cats of BGC met with Shangri-La Fort’s management.
“At that time we were told that the cats had been adopted by some of their staff, and that Pest Busters had relocated the remaining cats to an undisclosed location. We have yet to be given any sort of proof that cats were indeed adopted by Shangri-La Fort’s staff.
“Despite many efforts to contact Pest Busters, we have not received any cooperation, information or statement from them.”
“It wasn’t until Sunday, Feb. 18, that Shangril-La Fort gave us the possible relocation sites of the cats. The locations given were not “exact” as stated, rather vague descriptions of areas in Taguig. Volunteers are on their way to search the areas today; updates will be posted once we have more information.
“At the moment, our primary concern is to retrieve the relocated cats and to ensure that no more cats are harmed. As mentioned, CARA has limited resources, so for now, this is what we are focusing on. We understand that emotions are high; CARA feels the same way. However, please allow us to focus our energies on the cats, rather than having to defend ourselves on social media.”
Last Friday, the Shangri-La at the Fort management issued an official statement on the matter.
“Last Feb. 14, 2018, we received inquiries on social media regarding the cats from the park beside the hotel. We would like to assure everyone that no harm has been done to the cats that have been relocated.”
“In fact, more than half of them have been adopted by hotel employees. The others were relocated to two locations within Taguig.”
“The hotel management met with CARA Welfare Philippines and Cats of BGC last Feb. 15, 2018 and discussed a long-term cooperation to ensure the welfare of the cats at the adjacent High Street park.”