STRAY CAT CHALLENGE
Our agency represented an upscale private club community located in Florida. The client operated two championship golf courses, a four-star hotel and a marina. Also, single family homes and townhomes. We were hired to place publicity primarily in travel and tourism publications and websites. We also provided crisis management services when called upon. We were asked to attend an emergency Board of Directors meeting to address an ever-growing stray cat problem. Over a five-year period, the cat population had grown measurably. The most recent census taken indicated that there were 800 stray cats living primarily on the two golf courses. Complaints from golfers and residents varied from cat attacks on themselves and their pets. There was also the threat of these animals spreading diseases such as rabies, cat scratch and bite infections and salmonella.
The board decided by majority vote to mollify this ever-growing cat problem: Club members reported releasing cats on the property would have their membership revoked. Employees would be immediately fired. The stray cat population would be trapped and euthanized.
We strongly cautioned the Board that euthanizing these cats would be a PR nightmare for the private club community. Leaks would most certainly get out to the media causing a seismic explosion of coverage that would be the ruination of the club’s long-standing reputation. We also surmised that members would resign wholesale and the private club community would experience an immediate and perhaps irreparable decline. The Board asked that we proffer an alternative solution at the next Board meeting.
We conferred with several vets to create a workable solution. From these consultations, we recommended to the Board that the cat population be spayed or neutered. To control the population, the cats’ left ears would be clipped. Further, we suggested that the club’s executive staff call a meeting with the employees to emphasize the cat problem and their immediate dismissal if caught releasing cats on the club grounds. The Board agreed and the entire process was completed within three months. Over a ten-year period, the stray cat populations declined from their original 800 to only 100 – mostly because of old age and disease.