Police report filed against troubled animal cafe in Bangkok allegedly owned by Singaporean man

Photo: Kitties & Bears Cafe / Facebook
Photo: Kitties & Bears Cafe / Facebook

Things have really blown up ever since a Thai man went on Facebook to alert everyone about the alleged neglect suffered by the cats and dogs of Bangkok’s Kitties & Bears Café. The Singapore connection was established by a claim that the owner of the troubled pet café was a Singaporean man who was convicted this year for failing to comply with licensing conditions in his now-defunct Cuddles Cat Cafe, where seven cats died due to poor health.

With some help from our colleagues at Coconuts Bangkok, it was revealed that Thai authorities are now involved in the matter — animal rights organization Watchdog Thailand have filed a police report against Kitties & Bears Café. Bangkok police and a veterinarian from Watchdog Thailand inspected the café on Tuesday and collected blood and saliva samples from the animals for testing, Morning News reported.

The veterinarian, Dr. Pattanaran Sadjarom, said the establishment had taken out the sick animals from the cafe and quarantined them elsewhere as of Tuesday, but she suspected there are still sick animals in the premises, based on what she described as abnormal feces in the litter boxes.

 

Clarifications

It shouldn’t be surprising that authorities are starting to get involved — the accusations lodged about the cafe in Bangkok are pretty serious, after all.The police visit comes just days after a lengthy Facebook post by Kitties & Bears Café’s former manager, Itsarachai Niyomrad, who publicly accused the establishment of neglecting the animals.

Singapore’s Cuddles Cat Cafe before it was shut down. Photo: Facebook

Some of the claims include the fact that the owner of the cafe, identified as a Singaporean named Jonathan or Tan, refused to take his animals in for critical veterinary checkups and treatment. Itsarachai also specified that the Tan in question is the same man who operated a pet cafe that was shuttered by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in Singapore. The only case that matches the description is none other the highly publicized one for Cuddles Cat Cafe, and court records identify the convicted owner as Jonathan Tan Wei-De.

According to his post:

  • No less than seven to eight dogs have died in a span of a month due to various illnesses and infections.
  • Tan refuses to bring his animals to critical veterinary checkups and treatment, despite repeated advice from his staff and other specialists.
  • Tan doesn’t keep the sick animals separate from the healthy ones, allowing diseases to spread.
  • A kitten died because Tan let customers play with it at a very early age.
  • A mother cat gave birth to a sick litter of kittens because Tan refused to bring it for medical treatment during its pregnancy.

Kitties & Bears Café have since tried to quell the rising public anger with a clarification on their own Facebook page. According to them, Parvovirus — a highly contagious viral disease mainly affecting dogs — had spread in their cafe despite their best efforts, and some of their younger dogs were not able to survive the infection. They assured that their animals are treated to regular veterinary checkups and the best food they can afford, while the premises itself are constantly sanitized.

Individual staffers have also spoken out about the incident, coming to the defense of their colleagues. They didn’t exactly deny the original accusations though.

“What they said is true…

I’d like to say that the story that our former employee posted [on Facebook] is true. The incident caused the animals at our cafe to die, but it happened over two months ago. After that, we have continuously made improvements, from the cleaning procedure to the fact that we quarantine the new pets that we’ve bought to see if they’re sick. We clean the cafe 7-10 days after that, to make sure the little ones that have recovered become sick again.”

“Hi, I am one of the employees at the cafe. The news about animals getting sick and dying at our cafe in the past is true.

After the problems occurred, we took action. We’ve taken every single pet that was prone to getting sick to the Chulalongkorn University’s Small Animal Hospital. That was how we initially fixed the problem, but I admit that there are the animals that recovered and the ones that died. We did everything we could.

Every employee helped taking care of the sick animals — they cleaned and sanitized everything. We’ve continuously tried to fix the problem. As of now, the animals at the cafe are fine.”

“My name is Tan. I work at the Kitties & Bears Cafe, and many of you must have seen the incriminating news about our cafe. But I’d like you to understand that we have done our best. We have ensured that every sick animal gets their treatment. We took them to the vet and hired a vet to give them treatments at the cafe.

Yes, there was a dog that died. We do not neglect this nor do we want it to happen again. We’ve consulted the vet about how we should take care of our animals. And many people must wonder, “Why don’t you take the dog to the animal hospital?” It’s because the dog was so little, and everybody knows the hospital is not 100 percent clean. You wouldn’t take a small kitten to the hospital. So we hired a doctor to constantly check on it, and prescribed medicine.

Now we do not let customers play with the kittens anymore. We apologize for what happened. We tried to keep them separate.”

 

Rebuttal

The original whistleblower however rebutted with even more incriminating claims. Itsarachai noted that Tan consulted the internet for solutions instead of experts and that the man should have learned from the mistakes he made in Singapore.

Itsarachai then shared screenshots of messages from others who claimed they’ve visited the cafe and were appalled by its standards. Here’re some of the translated text messages:

  • “I went there last week. An employee used a scoop that a cat has licked to scoop ice cream for people. I saw a cat lick the scoop and the ice that they use to keep the ice cream cool, so I told them to change the scoop. That employee was a bit angry. Other employees on the first floor didn’t take care of the cats well. They didn’t even seem to love cats.”
  • “I’ve been there. The dog area smelled like pee. The dogs were damp and smelled like pee. The floor was sticky like they didn’t care about hygiene at all. I got scratched by a raccoon. The employees only performed first-aid on my wounds. They did not take me to get a vaccination. The cafe should have taken responsibility — not just put Betadine on my wounds and let me go home.”

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