Alley Cat Allies protests Loews Portofino Bay
In January, we covered a dispute between the defenders of a feral cat colony and the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. The hotel, which once participated in a Trap-Neuter-Release program (TNR) with a colony of feral cats living on its grounds, began trapping and removing once-welcome cats from their properties. After an onslaught of criticism from cat lovers and animal rights activists, Loews stopped trapping – but only temporarily. Loews began trapping the cats again, spurring a protest that took place at Loews on April 14.
On March 28, Riverfront Cats of Miami – the organization that originally uncovered the Loews controversy in January – announced that Loews hired local animal removal service Critter Control to trap the cats and take them to Orange County Animal Service (OCAS).
Francie Israeli of Alley Cat Allies, a national cat advocacy group, claimed Loews only put off trapping the cats until the media heat was off of them. “It was quiet for a long time because they wanted to start trapping without publicity,” she said.
During the three-month lapse in action at the Loews hotels the cats were still in danger since hotel employees were prohibited from feeding the cats. “The cats were starving for weeks before they were trapped,” Israeli said.
Critter Control usually traps wild animals like armadillos and raccoons, which may be why its trapping protocol caused some problems. “Cats have been killed, injured, starved and left in traps exposed to almost 90 degree heat,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. Many cats were left in cages for hours and came in to OCAS with bloody faces, possibly from panicking and bashing themselves against the cages, struggling to get free.
After the cats were taken to OCAS, many were rescued and transported to foster homes. These homes, however, are temporary and Alley Cat Allies worries that the cats will be unable unadoptable because of their feral nature. “The cats are in bad shape because they’ve lived in this property their whole lives,” Israeli said. “Since they can’t get adopted they’re going to get killed in the shelter.”