Feral Cat Colony Ousted by Loews Hotel ChainPublished April 3, 2012
A stable feral cat colony of 23 felines had been peacefully co-existing with guests on the grounds of the Orlando, Florida Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort for years.
Run by George Ricci, a former bellman, along with a dedicated group of cat loving Loews’ employees, the cats even had feeding stations resembling the hotel’s architecture.
But last week, all of a sudden and without any apparent logical reason, this model Trap/Neuter-Spay/Return (TRN) feral cat colony was issued a certain death sentence by Loews’ corporate staff. Since it is extremely hard to find permanent homes for feral cats, this colony is destined for euthanasia. From this writer’s perspective, the hotel chain’s motto, “Loews Loves Pets” is dishonest and hypocritical.
According to an article published on the Alley Cat Allies website, Loews’ corporate staff made the decision that the cats posed a serious risk to hotel guests. A wildlife service was hired to trap the cats and relocate them to a local animal shelter.
Posted prominently on the Feral Cat Issue Facebook Page defending their decision, is a statement made by the Orlando, Florida Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
“We have reviewed our practice involving feral, free-roaming cats and have talked with numerous agencies including Orange County Animal Services. The Florida Department of Health states that feral cats pose a continuous concern to communities due to the persistent threat of injury and disease. The priority at our hotels is the health and safety of our guests and team members. As a result, the cats will be re-located to the county animal services center.”
Making Loews’ decision to relocate the feral cat colony even more untenable is the result of a study made by Stanford University's Department of Environmental Health and Safety, (EHS): It was found that feral cats present virtually no risk to humans. After consulting with the Santa Clara County Health Department and Stanford's Department of Comparative Medicine, EHS’s general consensus is that individuals are virtually at no risk of health and safety dangers from feral cats.
Loews ignored many offers of assistance to help the feral cat colony from several highly respected animal welfare groups, including Alley Cat Allies. Offers to educate Loews about feral cat colonies also fell on deaf ears.
Since TNR feral cats are neutered, spayed, vaccinated and de-wormed, and present no health risks to humans, this writer feels strongly that Loews' decision was ignorant, precipitous and inhumane.
How do you feel about Loews’ decision to rid themselves of a highly successful feral cat colony on their property? Share your thoughts in a comment.