A hotel owner in Pretoria East, South Africa has threatened to sue volunteers who managed a feral cat colony on the hotel property. The Farm Inn hotel threatens to sue in defamation because they claim that cat lovers criticizing the hotel on social media and in protests on the ground are defaming hotel management.
The feral cat colony volunteers and workers claim that the hotel is starving the feral cats. This is considered to be a defamatory statement by the hotel because they say that the cats are being cared for properly and are not starving.
It is the first time that I have read about a hotel owner or any other business threatening to sue in defammation volunteers who look after feral cat colonies under TNR programs. Is a very dubious threat to make because it is very hard to succeed in an action for defamation. In any case the feral cat colony volunteers will claim that what they say is true. If it is true it cannot be defamatory.
There is a warning here though for all people participating in the management of feral cats when the cats are on private property and they have been given permission to look after the cats. It is possible, in the heat of the matter, to say things that just might be defamatory.
In this instance the Silver Lakes hotel has been accused of cruelty against the feral cats by starving them. One of the protesters held a banner which stated “the Farm Inn is starving it’s cats!” (see collage above).
For 10 years hotel the management allowed the community cats to be on their property and to be cared for by CatPals. A small, stable, sterilized and healthy cat colony had been established.
In October 2017, CatPals were told by hotel management to remove all feral cats from the hotel grounds because they claimed that cheetah cubs had died because the feral cats had transmitted diseases to the cubs which kill them.
The cat lovers resisted demands to remove the cats. The hotel persisted with their demands and allowed an extension of time to remove them. The disagreement between the cat lovers in the hotel continued to the point where the hotel insisted that no one would be permitted to return to the property to feed the cats. Previously they had issued an ultimatum that if CatPals were unprepared to remove the cats it would prohibit them from feeding them.
This is the source of the protest and the claim that the hotel is starving the cats. In retaliation, as mentioned, the hotel has threatened litigation in defamation because they say that the protesters on the ground and in social media are damaging the reputation of the hotel.
My personal opinion is that this is a threat and no more. If the facts that I have read on the Internet are true then I don’t think that this is defamation in any case. The hotel is obviously desperate to stop negative publicity permeating throughout social media as it is disseminated by millions of cat lovers who frequent Facebook and Twitter. Personally I have a lot of admiration for the protestors.
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