Shangri-La, CARA start search for missing cats of BGC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 19) — Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, will be teaming up with animal welfare workers to find the missing cats in its community.

"Shangri-La at the Fort will be offering to [Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA) Welfare Philippines] and Cats of BGC to mobilize some of its colleagues to help rescue and bring back the cats," Shangri-La said in a statement on Monday.

The hotel came under fire after visitors of Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig noticed the disappearance of the neighborhood's cats.

Netizens pointed to the hotel as having hired the services of the pest control service Pestbusters. In its statement, Shangri-La denied exterminating the cats but did not comment on whether it tapped such a service.

Instead, it said 11 cats were relocated to "residential areas on Ilaya Street and Anastacio Street, both in Taguig City."

Shangri-La also claimed that 12 cats were adopted by the hotel staff, although animal welfare group CARA said on Thursday that they were not provided proof of such adoption.

CARA said in a Facebook post on Monday that Shangri-La confirmed it hired Pestbusters in a meeting on February 15. The animal welfare group added it did not receive news of the possible relocation site until Sunday.

"The locations given were not 'exact' as stated, rather vague descriptions of areas in Taguig," CARA wrote in a Facebook post.

Cats of BGC, a Facebook page dedicated to cat lovers in the area, also said the statement differed from a February 16 e-mail they received that said the cats were "at Buting and near Kalayaan Avenue."

An initial search for the cats on Sunday turned up dry, and CARA called for volunteers to assist on a second search on Monday.

 

Shangri-La said it had been "undertaking steps to manage its co-existing with the cats" since November last year.

"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," the statement read.

Netizens outraged

Netizens took to Facebook with one-star reviews for Shangri-La at the Fort. Some even complained that the page administrator had blocked them after their low reviews.

"What BGC Shang did with the cats in their area — and their obvious dishonesty during the aftermath — shows a lack of perceptiveness and accountability, two values that are absolutely critical in running a hotel," a netizen named Gian Lao wrote.

Other netizens repeatedly copy-pasted a passage from Republic Act No. 8485, or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

The section being quoted noted provisions of penalties for the cruelty, maltreatment or neglect of an animal.

The penalties include:

  • Six months to one year imprisonment and a minimum fine of P30,000 for cruelty, maltreatment or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitation for survival;
  • One year to a year and six months imprisonment and a minimum fine of P50,000 for cruelty, maltreatment or neglect that causes incapacitation for survival; and
  • One to two years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of P100,000 for cruelty, maltreatment or neglect that results in death.

Netizens recalled how the cats were a part of the neighborhood community.

"I really hope that these cats are in a much safer place than where they were. They were friends and family to thousands of people and the BGC community," a netizen named Marcelle John Marcelino wrote in a Facebook post that has garnered 20,000 reactions and 10,000 shares of publishing time.

He surmised that visitors who disliked cats complained to the hotel management.

"As disappointed as I am, lets not take it hard on Shangri-La BGC... A public apology and proof of the cats' well being would be nice though," he added.