Shangri-La: No cats killed nor harmed
After an outpouring of anger and grief from animal lovers led to a digital firestorm, Shangri-La at the Fort said on Monday that no cats at an adjacent park had been killed nor harmed during their relocation.
In a statement, the hotel said it had been taking steps since November to coexist with the cats which made One Bonifacio High Street Park at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig their home for years.
Twelve of the cats were later adopted by its employees while 11 others were safely relocated between Jan. 31 and Feb. 13 to Ilaya Street in Pasig City and Anastacio Street in Makati, it added.
Shangri-La said it had shared the exact relocation sites with animal welfare group Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (Cara) Welfare Philippines and Cats of BGC, a volunteer group which had been looking after the cats. It added that it would offer help to both groups to rescue and bring the felines back to the park.
No sign of cats
“The 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,” it said.
“Please be assured that the management is committed to being a responsible neighbor in the community where we are located, and a good corporate citizen of this country,” the statement read.
However, a search of the areas mentioned by Shangri-La on Monday yielded none of the missing felines, according to Cara Welfare president Nancy Cu Unjieng.
“Nobody [in these two areas] has seen any new or healthy-looking cats. Not a single one,” Unjieng told the Inquirer. She added that they would search the areas again in the evening.
In addition to the two areas given by Shangri-La, Cara Welfare also searched Guadalupe park near Pasig River based on a tip but found no cats from the BGC park there either.
Sam Gallardo, Shangri-La communications director, declined to say whether the hotel would provide proof that some of the cats had been adopted but stressed: “Rest assured, these 12 cats have been given a home.”
She also refrained from commenting when pressed on whether Shangri-La acted on its own or if the relocation of the cats was overseen by Pestbusters, a pest control company.
Unjieng earlier told the Inquirer that Shangri-La general manager John Rice had confirmed Pestbusters’ participation in the relocation of the cats.
“Pestbusters is not cooperating at all. They are not taking any of our calls,” Unjieng said. She added that the pest control firm violated Republic Act No. 8485, or the Animal Welfare Act, and its implementing rules and regulations.
“They know there is a law, but because of greed for money, they disposed of these cats, even kittens,” she said.
The controversy began after longtime residents and employees in the BGC area took notice last week of the disappearance of the cat colony which was a source of community pride.
While the felines were strays, Cats of BGC had taken on the responsibility of ensuring they were spayed/neutered, vaccinated and regularly fed.
Cara Welfare and Cats of BGC first met with Shangri-La on Feb. 15 regarding the issue but in a statement on Monday, Cara Welfare said it was not until Feb. 18 that they were given the possible relocation sites.
Many netizens who posted one-star reviews on Shangri-La’s Facebook page accused the hotel on Monday of silencing critics after their comments were deleted while others had their social media accounts suspended.
“Definitely we are not deleting or blocking any accounts. It is not our practice,” Gallardo said, adding that Shangri-La was getting in touch with Facebook to clarify the matter.