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You Can Help Loews Cats

By Christine Michaels of Riverfront Cats for Pet News and Views

As many of you know our country is facing an epidemic rate of homeless pets, especially cats.  Last month Betsy Saul, co-founder of Petfinder.com shared at a pet conference, that homeless cats, especially stray and feral cats, remain the biggest challenge in the animal rescue and welfare world. I knew this firsthand and set out on a mission– Education.

This is Oreo, one of the Loews' cats.

The first step was to research successful case studies of TNRM. You probably heard of it–Trap-Neuter-Return- and Manage. This effort has worked successfully in communities and upscale hotels and businesses from New York to Paris to Japan.  My idea was to collect studies and build a library that would serve as a reference for others. 

I learned about the model TNRM program at the Loews Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Originally there were over 40 cats and one hotel employee took it upon himself to start trapping the cats and having them spayed/neutered. He did this on his own time and paid any costs from his wages. His name was George Ricci, a bellman. Over time and with the help of fellow employees, the kittens were adopted to loving homes and the adult population stayed at 20.  Furthermore, all cats were dewormed, spayed/neutered and rabies vaccinated. To make it complete, employees built Italian style cat mansions as dry feeding stations to complement the Portofino decor.  As a marketing/PR professional, I thought this was brilliant. Loews Hotels could milk this for great PR and help thousands of cats, right?

This is one of the cat homes that was managed by volunteers.

 After visiting the property and talking to several employees, they were so proud of their contribution and the difference they made.  I was so moved.  This was truly a perfect program to emulate.

 As I was wrapping up my case study in December 2001, I suddenly learned that the new Director of Operations, David Bartek, mandated that all cats be trapped and sent to a county shelter where they are euthanized. Kill the cats? I SOUNDED THE ALARM!

 The county shelter informed us that a mother cat and her kittens were already brought in from the Hard Rock hotel and put to sleep.  Bloggers, cat lovers, and animal advocates unleashed their fury on social media and Loews Hotels backed down. Then Loews asked for help in relocating the cats.  Experts, caretakers and  bloggers phoned, emailed and wrote letters and Loews never answered. They did not want to hear that relocation was traumatizing and not an option. The best solution was to continue their TNRM program. Cats knew the grounds, their caretakers, and their names. They pose no risk. Loews Hotel was the only home they knew.

But sadly, executives at New York headquarters ignored our pleas, letters and phone calls and redirected us to the Orlando staff, where template letters with no answers were sent.  The trapping began and so did the trauma and injuries to the cats.  A Facebook page was created to document every movement and included photos.

As predicted, new cats, unsterilized, have moved in. The vacuum effect has taken place. To this day, not a single question has been directly answered.

How can you help? We need to continually remind Loews Hotels that we are not going away. This is not a passing fad. We are concerned, we are watching and we will keep educating the public.  Outdoor cats are harmless when vaccinated and managed and deserve to live humanely. TNRM works!  Let’s continue the pressure on Loews Hotels in a few ways.

1.    Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SaveLoewsCats

2.    Sign the petition:    http://www.change.org/petitions/loews-hotels-stop-trapping-harmless-cats-sending-to-kill-shelter

3.    Write letters to Loews headquarters in NY. You can send them to Mr. Paul Whetsell, CEO and Ms. Lark-Marie Anton, VP Public Relations at Loews Hotels, Corporate Head Office, 667 Madison Avenue,  New York, NY 10065. You can also call them at 212-521-2000 .

21 comments to You Can Help Loews Cats

  • Lavendar

    Thanks for these easy suggestions on how to help. That is what I love about this blog.

  • Judy

    Done! And I will like their FB page too.

  • Donna

    Signed the petition. Thanks Michele! This is a great guest post.

  • Mary

    I used to–that’s USED TO–stay at Loews Hotels with my family. I am now going to find another place when I go on vacation until they reverse their stance on this. And I signed the petition.

  • Inez

    I know this has been reported on. Thank you for continuing the fight. As Christine wrote we have to let Loews know that we are not going away. So the more publicity, the better. I certainly won’t be staying at Loews hotel until this is resolved.

  • Lori

    Add “boycott Loews” to your list of how to help. Boycotting a business is the best way to send a message to a company to let them know consumers will not be supporting them. They will have to give in then.

  • Lisa

    This is a really informative and well written guest post Michele. I really like your blog, and this article has great tips on how to help. Thank you. I will share.

  • Susan

    I signed the petition! Thanks.

  • Fulvia

    Thank you, Michele! I’ll take action and share!

  • We know Christine and adore her!

    Just tweeted this and i had already signed the petition quite a while ago!

  • Larry

    I won’t stay at Loews, and have already signed the petition. Let’s keep this up until Loews’ execs come to their senses.

  • Roslyn

    Signed and shared. Plus, I won’t stay there. We always stay at Kimpton hotels. They are very pet-friendly.

  • I just met her Caren, and she is wonderful!–Best, Michele

  • Thanks Fulvia!–Best, Michele

  • Malcolm

    I live in FL, and have seen the cats at Loews. They were well cared for and the volunteers really made sure the area was clean. When we have company from other states visiting they used to stay at Loews–NO MORE! We will find another hotel for our guests.

  • Roberta

    Good guest post. I have friends in the area who said the cats were well cared for and that the area was clean. Loews has said otherwise. They need to bring back TNR. It is the only solution.

  • Kay

    I have done TNR. It works, and Loews made a major error by eliminating this solution. I know people with pets will stay far away from Loews hotels.

  • Thomas

    I’m one of those guys who loves cats, has done TNR, and know the importance of keeping such a program. We must all get on Loews case until they bring back the TNR program.

  • Beth

    We do TNR in La Porte County, Indiana, and it has been extremely successful. One local former mayor even signed an agreement with the LP County TNR team indicating his support of this program. We all have to get the word out that TNR works and re-educate those who push the panic button when a few ferals/stray wander into their neighborhoods. Also getting more vets on board to volunteer time neutering would be extremely helpful. Manage, not murder. It works and it is the ethical answer.

  • Thanks for replying Beth and for doing TNR. So many people are slowly coming around to it. I think it’s the only solution.–Best, Michele