The pest control firm hired to remove and relocate stray cats living around the Shangri-La at the Fort in Taguig City broke its silence Friday night, saying it merely caught and released the felines at a place far enough from the hotel and apologized for not speaking up sooner about the issue.
In a post on the Facebook community page of “Cats of BGC,” PestBusters Philippines said it is their policy to protect the privacy of their clients, including the five-star hotel at the Bonifacio Global City that created a social media firestorm over its controversial handling of the cats.
“As a pest management company, PestBusters professional mandate is to eliminate the five general pests: cockroaches, rats, ants, flies and mosquitoes,” the firm said in a statement. “Cats do not fall into the category of pests. So, when we were asked by our client to handle the matter, we needed to look for options of dealing with it properly and humanely.”
“As we only have the authority to service our client, only cats residing or wandering inside the private property were removed,” PestBusters said, adding it researched and found just two options: bring them to the city pound “for possible euthanization” or catch and release.
“Since we didn’t want any cats killed, we chose to catch and release them where other cats live but far enough away that they wouldn’t return to the property,” the firm added.
PestBusters said it met with the group CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals Welfare Philippines) and brought their volunteers to one of the locations where they released the cats.
“We will continue with our commitment to engage with CARA and any official organizations following up on this issue,” it added.
A copy of the firm’s official statement, made by PestBusters client services manager Rina Macasaet, was posted on Facebook Friday by Cats of BGC, a group of concerned individuals and animal lovers who called the public’s attention on the disappearance of the felines on Feb. 14.
“It has been more than a week since the incident took place. Unfortunately, we still don’t have any good news for those waiting for it. Apologies for the lack of updates from this page,” the group said along with the post.
It added: “How nice [really not] of them to finally to show up and provide a statement regarding this matter. Where are our cats?”
The stray cats remain missing despite efforts of the group with the help of CARA volunteers to find the animals.
Public outrage on social media broke out after at least 20 cats living near the hotel disappeared, after Shangri-La management said it hired PestBusters to remove and relocate the animals.
The hotel assured the public that no harm had been done to the relocated cats.
“In fact, more than half of them have been adopted by hotel employees. The others were relocated to two locations within Taguig,” Shangri-La said in a statement.
On its official Facebook page, CARA said the final round of searches was made last Thursday, following the series of searches with representatives of Shangri-La and PestBusters. They failed to locate the cats.
CARA also acknowledged and expressed gratitude to the employees of Shangri-La for providing homes for some of the cats as claimed by the hotel management. But it noted that the 12 cats adopted by the hotel staff were not the ones they were looking for.
“We believe that the most productive thing for us to do right now is to channel our emotions towards finding solutions to the current situation. The parties involved are cooperating and are transparent with the information they are providing. Please allow us to continue handling this situation and first resolve the searches today [last Thursday],” CARA said.
Cats of BGC used social media in calling on the public to find the missing cats.
“Our skill set was 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],” it said.
Shangri-La management sent an email to Cats of BGC on Feb. 16, saying the cats were “placed at Buting and near Kalayaan Avenue.” On Feb. 18, the hotel’s official statement stated the release sites were “residential areas on Ilaya Street and Anastacio Street.”
Since November 2017, CARA volunteers had noticed that some of the Shangri-La cats had gone missing, but none of their investigations led to any conclusions.