Less than a week after 38 cats were rescued from a shuttered Bangkok cat cafe, an animal rights group says there is a surprising twist to the tale – the rescuers were the real bad guys.
*Dun dun dun*
The already bizarre case involving dead, injured and ill-bred kitties discovered at the Venice Catcorner took a turn over the weekend when Watchdog Thailand declared that no evidence of abuse was found at the establishment.
“We do not believe there is any abuse or unlicensed breeding at the cafe because there was no evidence of such,” the head of Watchdog Thailand’s legal team – who refused to give her name – told Coconuts Bangkok today. “Veterinarians who have treated some of these cats also corroborate this. People shouldn’t speak out if they don’t actually have the information.”
Siding with the cafe owner, the animal rights group today insists former political candidate Talin Seree Ruamthai, who last week led a group to rescue 38 cats from the cafe located in the Bang Khen district – which was shut down earlier this month – made up the story to “gain sympathy.”
Why exactly he would do that, she does not know. Although Watchdog never shies from media attention, its legal rep resolutely refuses to publicly identify herself.
Talin shrugged off the accusations as baseless, saying he only acted out of a sincere desire to help the troubled animals.
“A lot of the things Watchdog wrote aren’t true. I’m not going to attack anyone here because all I wanted was to help the animals,” he said today in an interview.
Talin said people can look at the photos and videos from the cafe and make up their own minds. Take a look at them and make up your own mind, he said.
“Do those animals look well taken care of to you?” he said.
In an odd turn for the animal crusaders, Watchdog defended those scenes as business as usual.
As for the cats with severed ears and missing eyes, Watchdog said the animals came to the cafe like that to be treated by resident vets and were not abused there.
“The cafes have veterinarians on rotation to treat these animals. For example, the vet that treated the blind cat admitted to having removed its eye because it was infected. They said it would turn into cancer without so,” she said.
Meanwhile putting cat carcasses in the freezer, she added, is normal practice for veterinary clinics. It’s unclear whether the cafe was an actual licensed clinic.
As to the sickly looking Frankencats on the premises, she thinks it was more likely cats getting busy and reproducing unsupervised rather than illegal breeding.
“Sometimes cats from the same family reproduce without our knowledge. Other veterinarians that have worked in the clinic said that they did not breed the cats. Whether the owner did, we can’t ask her,” she said, alluding to one indisputable fact: The cafe’s 35-year-old is indeed in prison in an unrelated retail fraud case.
Can’t expect a cat business to be responsible for managing its cats … right?
Asked for evidence to support its counter-claims, Watchdog responded by pointing out saying that Talin lacked any of his allegations. The rep said paperwork exists documenting the cats’ surgeries.
The pushback against Talin’s effort didn’t not stop there, however. The Watchdog rep said the cafe owner’s mother – granted power of attorney by her jailed daughter – plans to file a theft complaint against the former political candidate.
“He can’t just break into an establishment and take animals that are not his. The defamation charges we can let go of, but we can’t with theft, ” she said.
“We want him to issue a public apology,” she added.
Local police last week declined to take legal action against the cafe and its owners over the abuse allegations, saying no complaints had been filed against the establishment.
Talin said his involvement has come to an end. He has given the rescued cats to licensed veterinarians who will treat them and seek new homes for them.
“I don’t want this to get more dramatic than it already has. … I only hope this story wakes our society up to how badly animal-related businesses need to be regulated. It is so clear the laws to protect the rights and welfare of these creatures do not exist yet,” he said.
This morning, the Thai Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals appealed to the Livestock Development and Bangkok Governor’s Office to investigate the cafe.
The group said it’s important for the government to look more closely at such animal-related establishments – not just the one in question, but all of them, especially with so many new animal cafes popping up all over the kingdom.