Shangri-La hotel hires pest control to get rid of stray cats in nearby park, animal rights advocates fight to find them

Photo from Cats of BGC Facebook page.
Photo from Cats of BGC Facebook page.

Cats are usually seen as pets and not pests but Shangri-La at The Fort hotel is currently under fire for getting rid of stray cats in a nearby park, an issue that went viral over the weekend.

A post by Facebook user Marcelle John  Marcelino posted on Friday says that the hotel hired pest control service PestBusters to remove cats from High Street park, which is beside the hotel. The area used to be the home of many stray cats but those who frequent the place have noticed that they are now all gone.

“This was once a place of beauty teaming with life, warmth, and the welcome allure of our community cats, bringing new energy and keeping the rat population at bay,” Marcelino quoted a source identified as “Lucy M.”

Sharing this forwarded message to me about Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila's action towards the cats at the adjacent High…

Posted by Marcelle John Marcelino on Friday, February 16, 2018

According to the post, guards manning the park noticed PetBusters employees taking the cats several times and took with them the milk bottles, feeding bowls, food, and vitamins volunteers brought for the animals.

Rach Bonifacio, an animal rights advocate and animal lover, noticed the decrease in cats last week.

I only saw two cats in my 5-hour stay on High Street. I wondered where the others were hiding, but it didn’t occur to me that someone might have wanted them gone since they’ve been there for as long as I can remember,” she told Coconuts Manila. 

She had mixed feeling when she first heard about Shangri-la’s involvement and now wonders why they wanted to get rid of the cats in the first place.

Were the cats going into their sewerage system? Their kitchen? Attacking their customers, which is highly unlikely? Were they stealing food?”

While they are stray cats, they are well taken cared of by volunteers including those behind the Cats of BGC Facebook page, which aims to manage and minimize the stray cat population in the area. They work towards neutering and vaccinating the cats and finding suitable people to adopt them.

According to the non-government organization Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA), they started investigating the issue in November, after people noticed that the cats have started to lessen, but they only found out about Shangri-La and PestBuster’s involvement last week.

Updated Announcement as of February 18, 11:00am:To all the concerned citizens and animal lovers who have been very…

Posted by CARA Welfare Philippines on Sunday, February 18, 2018

CARA met with the hotel’s general manager last week and were told that some cats were adopted by hotel employees, while others were relocated to other parts of Taguig City. However, a few days later, CARA found that the cats were also brought to other cities in Metro Manila.

In a Facebook post this morning, CARA said that they visited the said sites two times yesterday but none of the cats from BGC were found. The organization also has not received any proof that the cats were really adopted.

In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, Shangri-La said that no cats were killed or harmed during the “relocation.” It also said that that they are working closely with CARA to manage the cats and find adoption avenues.

“This incident has been a learning experience for all of us, to closely collaborate with experts in our community in order to provide a safe and happy environment for animals and humans alike.”

Posted by Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila on Sunday, February 18, 2018

CARA verified the hotel’s cooperation in their Facebook post this morning.

But Bonifacio thinks the hotel should take more responsibility for their actions.

“I think there should be a case filed against Shangri-la for animal cruelty, or at the very least, should be penalized for what they have done,” she said.

“…all employees should be required at least 8 hours a month of animal shelter work in PAWS (The Philippine Animal Welfare Society)/CARA for the rest of their employment so they see the repercussions of what they did. [This] may be a good way to open their eyes to the needs of street animals, too.”

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