Thursday, January 12, 2012

Loews Universal Orlando Reverses TNR Policy

As I have mentioned previously, I support Trap-Neuter-Return programs. So when I heard that Loews Universal Orlando had reversed its policy regarding TNR, I was (to say the least) distressed.

Loews Portifino Bay Hotel, located at Universal Orlando Resort, had a model TNR program. They were a great example of how the program works, and they had even built "cat mansions" as feeding stations.

Then Loews decided to end the TNR program, and they hired a company to trap and remove the cats. One mother and four kittens have already been trapped at a sister property, Hard Rock Hotel. They were sent to a kill shelter and euthanized!

On their Facebook page, Loews Portifino Bay Hotel stated:

“Loews Hotels is a pet-friendly hotel brand and we support the humane treatment of animals. It is important to share the facts surrounding this issue. Feral cats at our Orlando hotels are being humanely trapped and taken to a local shelter. For liability reasons, we were advised not to maintain a cat colony in our hotel environment. All cats that were part of an established colony on property are being safely re-located. Our commitment to addressing this issue in a humane and responsible way will continue.”

I don't see sending cats to a kill shelter as being a humane and responsible way of addressing the issue. Remember these are cats that Loews had been caring for - they are friendly and trust humans! These cats are spayed/neutered and vaccinated - they pose no health risk to the guests or staff.

Loews General Manager David Bartek has stated that the decision was made by the property's landlord Universal Orlando Resort. I am asking you to contact Loews and Universal and tell them that sending these cats to certain death is not the way to address this issue. Let them know that you do not support their decision and consequently you will not support their businesses.

Please be polite and respectful in your communication. Contact information is listed below:

General Manager David Bartek: 407-503-9000, dbartek@loewshotels.com
Director of PR Jennifer Hodges: 407-503-9090, jhodges@loewshotels.com
Loews Universal Orlando Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LoewsUniversalOrlando
Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tish: jtish@loewshotels.com
Loews Hotels Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LoewsHotels
Loews Hotels Twitter account: http://twitter.com/Loews_Hotels
Universal Orlando Director of PR Vince Laruffa: vincelaruffa@universalorlando.com
Universal Orlando Resort Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/UniversalOrlandoResort

Image via Catster.com

15 comments:

  1. I will work on emailing them this weekend...why something that 'worked' and was an attraction could be done away with due to liability...brings to mind the recent happening at the Algonquin Hotel and Matilda...

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    1. That's true Teri, but luckily Matilda wasn't taken to a shelter and euthanized!

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  2. For a serious matter, I am reading the TNR concerns above.

    I see where TNR would be a compassionate response to a sad situation. However, given a hotel, with a transient human population, of varying favour to small animals, including some people who may not get along well with "feral" (ie, non "owned" (and here I note that you cannot ever truly own a cat) by humans) cats might present legal issues.

    Too, who's to say that all feral (though "friendly") cats would be properly treated by all guests of the hotel, and would properly treat the various guests, when encountering each other, in different situations.

    Bottom line, I can also see why Loews Legal might perceive a TNR policy as a potential liability issue for the hotel. The established "cat mansions" as feeding stations, nothwithstanding.

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    1. Chuck - thank you for reading the post. The issue here is not necessarily the discontinuation of the TNR program, although it was a model program as I mentioned. The issue is that the cats are being moved to a "kill shelter" and subsequently euthanized. It is of course their choice to remove the cats from their property, but they could arrange to have the cats moved to another area where they could continue live a peaceful existence. There are many resources available to Loews/Universal in re-homing these animals - they just chose the easiest and least humane route.

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    2. Vickie,

      I'm looking at the sign - "Please do not attempt to approach any cats", and wondering if any guests either blatantly ignored the sign, or maybe (this being Florida) did not read or understand the sign. Or even (cynic that I am) decided to have some "fun" with the cats. Have you ever watched "Beavis and Butthead"?

      Then too, and since I watch too much commercial TV and get subjected to the Sarah Maclachlan crying party a dozen times / day, I suspect that "humane shelters" may not be the absolutely best solution either.

      I just have to suspect that just maybe the decision to discontinue the TNR program might have involved more than just a cursory "cost / benefit" analysis by bean counters. Just maybe there are some humans in Loews, too.

      Sadly, and corporate culture being what it is, we may never know the full story. But I've been part of a corporate culture, and I know that for many reasons, the complete story may be locked up in an email discussion folder somewhere.

      That's not to say that letting the identified corporate decision makers know of the concern, though I would prefer to threaten more than a boycott. "As a current and (hopeful) future customer, I would prefer to be supporting an enterprise that treats non human populations compassionately and responsibly." is more of what I am writing today.

      But my father was a Methodist minister, and I tend to sermonise more, as his son.

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  3. Vicki, Chuck did bring up a good point, and your article and answer to him are both excellent. You are right, they could have taken a little more time, made some contacts to see if there were alternative places to move the cats. That would have been the best solution. I don't like to see animals killed either but I usually see over the fence too and see the other point. Somehow there has to be a meeting of the minds. The TNR program is vital to controlling the feral cat population.

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    1. Thank you Mario! I do try to see both side of most issues, and I understand that Loews/Universal have the right to remove the cats. I just wish they would have worked with another TNR group to re-home them rather than send them to a "kill shelter."

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  4. As the caretaker of this colony, let me first thank everyone for your attention and support of this issue.
    First off, in the 5 years that I have been managing this colony, there as been no, none, zero contact between cat and hotel guest. The cats are fed in a controlled area away from the guest areas, and rest assured, feral cats will run and hide whenever a human is around.
    Also, please understand that the way TNR works is to prevent other unsterilzed, unvaccinated cats from moving in. If you remove the colony, which is no easy task, you will most assuredly have an epidemic within 12 to 18 months.
    We have worked tirelessly to spay/neuter, feed, vaccinate, and adopt out cats from this property. The most common sense solution is to allow us to continue to manage it, and may I add, at no cost to the hotel.
    Thank you everyone, feel free to ask more questions about the status of this case.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and addressing this issue. I had no idea this colony has been managed for the past five years. I certainly understand the purpose of TNR is prevent other cats from moving into the area. Ideally, Loews Universal Orlando will reconsider their decision and allow the cats to remain. But if not, I would certainly hope they re-home the cats rather than send them to a "kill shelter."

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  5. Oh man, this is such a tough issue. I see both sides, but can't help but think some lawyer, or insurance agent, thousands of miles away in a windowless office made this decision while going over liabilities, without being informed.

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    1. Oh, I think you're right about that Michelle! The good news is that Riverfront Cats quickly brought the issue to the attention of pet bloggers and animal lovers. Loew's received enough push back to stop trapping the cats and talk to TNR advocates regarding other possible solutions. Hopefully there will be a resolution to this issue that both sides can accept.

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  6. India is developing & making its progressive stats felt at different World summits. Normally, influx of visitors to India would rise high. That’s is where the need of 5 star hotels in India needs more strength owing to architectural and infrastructural impression on the world. Thankfully we have some of the finest hotels in India which are at par with global hospitality standards.

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  7. URGENT UPDATE on Loews Hotels and the TNR/managed colonies living on Loews Properties: Loews has recently decided to ignore the facts and data provided to them by well known authorities and animal lovers alike. Traps have now been set by Critter Control at all 3 Lowes hotel properties - Loews has stated that the cats will be "relocated" to Animal services (the local animal control facility).

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  8. The cats are already being rounded up by 'pest control'. No one is allowed to feed the cats and employees are afraid to get involved for fear of being fired.

    Animal Control is working with Care TNR to rescue the cats as they come in and attempt to find them new homes or colonies they can live out their lives.

    Loews is trying to whitewash their actions and claim they are 'relocating' the cats.

    For more information:
    http://www.alleycat.org/
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/CARE-Feline-TNR-Inc/132410926780424
    #saveloewscats (Twitter)

    Robin from Orlando

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    1. Robin - I did an update post just this week. You can find it here:

      http://bunnyjeancook.blogspot.com/2012/03/update-on-loews-universal-orlando-tnr.html

      There is also a Facebook page for Save Loews Cats at:
      www.facebook.com/SaveLoewsCats

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