For many, this year’s Valentine’s Day was a day to remember–but to animal welfare advocates and pet lovers in Metro Manila, the memory is painful. Apparently, a well-known hotel along High Street hired a pest control company to “relocate” over 20 cats living in an adjacent park. The news broke out online on February 14 when netizens started posting angry comments demanding to know where the cats of BGC are.
Here is one of the later posts, which described the situation and people’s sentiments pretty well.
Here is Marcelle’s full post:
Sharing this forwarded message to me about Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila‘s action towards the cats at the adjacent High Street park beside their hotel, because I myself, am very saddened upon hearing about their disappearance:
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.
For those who are not aware, BGC has no rats, because we are protected by our awesomely friendly felines.
Now, all that is left is dead inorganic cement and a drab landscape devoid of life, devoid of energy, devoid of love..
Thank you very much Shang BGC! Within a span of a few months, You and PestBusters Philippines destroyed my community, and my dream of a beautiful and vibrant BGC..
Shangrila’s overzealous managers gave the order to Pestbusters to deflect cats from their perimeter.
However, Pestbusters exceeded their jurisdiction, they took the cats that were located on Ayala property, and not the Shangrila perimeter.
And they mobilzed all of this in the dead of night, at a time when no one would notice them do their deeds.. But the Ayala guards saw them! Not once, not twice, but several times, and always at night..
Sadly, the first animals that were taken were the kittens nursing at the bookstop..
Even their milk bottles, feeding bowls, food and vitamins, everything was gone..
I could not hold back my grief, my panic, my heart sank to my stomach..
Were they poisoned? Were they exterminated? Were they put in a sack and thrown in Pasig River?
As i have heard from other sources, this is not the first time that a pest control company has exterminated a whole community of cats (or dogs) in manila. There were many past incidents, with cases still ongoing.. Like the supermarket on macapagal and a bank frontage in burgos circle..
Why are those people so selfish and evil? Are certain people so apathetic and driven by money that their respect for Life, beauty and nature is so easily compromised for the sake of wealth?
It is the Lunar New Year today, but i feel no sense of happiness, it feels like the day my daddy died..
Dear Pestbusters, have you no conscience and shame? We dont care who you are, we just want our pets back..
If you “really” did not kill them, then it would be easy for you to bring each and every cat back to where they belong. My 5 year old child begs you to bring back his friends alive and well and accounted for, however, if you are not able to do this, it means you killed them, and are covering up for it.. Shame on you, you broke so many hearts this Valentines Day, both children and adults..
I weep, I grieve.. These are my friends, my family.. These cats that my son has excitedly ran to the park to see, to be with, to play with, and my son has fed them everyday. Until yesterday, when he realized that adults killed his cats..
It is a very unhappy Valentines Day and Chinese New Year.. Please bring back our cats, dead or alive, we want to embrace and hold our fallen family..
I am so heartbroken and disillusioned, there have been too many who have died,
just so that corporations can make money..
February 16 2018
Chinese New Year
Picture taken by me on Christmas Day.
End Note: 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. As disappointed as I am, lets not take it hard on Shangrila BGC. People make mistakes and make bad decisions. Also, there are people who do not like cats, nor the ecology of the system at the park. So, most likely, they complained to Shang management. A public apology and proof of the cats’ well being would be nice though.
Perhaps due to the public outcry, the hotel got in touch with two animal welfare groups, CARA Welfare Philippines and Cats of BGC, and met with two representatives the next day. The hotel then came out with a statement. See below.
Read the full post below:
Last February 14, 2018, we received inquiries on social media regarding the cats from the park beside the hotel. We would like to assure everyone that no harm has been done to the cats that have been relocated. In fact, more than half of them have been adopted by hotel employees. The others were relocated to two locations within Taguig. The hotel management has met with CARA Welfare Philippines and Cats of BGC last February 15, 2018 and discussed a long-term cooperation to ensure the welfare of the cats at the adjacent High Street park.
The Cats of BGC
If you are following our stories on the Cats of BGC, you will be aware that they belong to a managed colony. Most are spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Volunteers are actively getting them adopted, working with CARA, the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center (PPBCC), and vet clinics in the area to have them fixed and cared for.
Over the years, a pet-friendly community grew around the cats, making sure the cats are always fed.
A loose group composed of BGC residents and office workers set up social media accounts to boost the adoption efforts. Two volunteers man the accounts on Instagram and Facebook while a handful of other volunteers take care of screening and home visits.
The Lost Cats of BGC
According to the hotel’s statement, the cats were relocated to two locations in Taguig. The hotel also claims that their employees adopted half of the cats. Upon reaching out to the Cats of BGC volunteers, I was told that they are waiting for information on the exact locations from the hotel so that they can check the areas themselves, in the hopes of rescuing the cats they know and love.
In the meantime, they are frantically looking for foster parents for the remaining cats of BGC.
The volunteers are also begging cat lovers in the Metro to be on the lookout for new cats with a tipped ear, which is a sign that the cat has been spayed or neutered.
Here are photos of two missing cats of BGC. You may check the official page for more photos.
Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR), the humane solution
Many if not most of the cats along High Street and nearby communities in Taguig are under TNVR programs by CARA and PPBCC. Volunteers, community members, and pet lovers pool their resources together to cover the costs. Last October, WhenInManila.com also initiated a TNVR mission along High Street and coordinated with the BGC admin to do so.
As far as science is concerned, TNVR is the only humane way so far to manage the population of stray animals. Stray cats are ‘trapped,’ usually by luring them with food then taken to a vet clinic to be spayed (females) or neutered (males). The surgery is quick, lasting only 30 minutes or less. The animals are then vaccinated against rabies and allowed to rest for two to three days, after which they are returned to where they were caught.
With TNVR, the breeding stops and rabies is eradicated.
According to animal welfare advocates, impounding strays (where they are euthanized if unclaimed) or dumping them elsewhere does not work. Expensive and cruel, this does not solve the stray cat overpopulation. The cats left behind will breed again and the cycle continues. Even if all cats are removed, new cats from other areas will move in. Called the vacuum effect, it just causes communities to run themselves ragged with exercises in futility.
It must be stressed, however, that communities must work with community leaders for an effective TNVR. Sadly. the reality of the situation thus far in the Philippines is that it is mostly volunteers and animal welfare organizations shouldering one half of the equation as community leaders or administrators are often reluctant to consider TNVR.
How can you help?
You can help by fostering the remaining cats of BGC and sponsoring future TNVR projects. You may reach out to the Cats of BGC through these accounts.
You may also reach out to your own communities to set up TNVR for your own stray cat populations. Contact an animal welfare organization to help you set it up–but you must be willing to initiate and organize as volunteers are few and can only do so much.
Anything to add to this story? Share your thoughts with us below.