Bat­tle for Big Hole res­cue dog is over

Owner do­nates her to the SPCA

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SANDI KWON HOO

PAS­TOR Chris Baad­jies, who says he’s the owner of the dog that mirac­u­lously sur­vived eight days af­ter fall­ing an es­ti­mated 160m down the Kim­ber­ley Big Hole, has de­cided to do­nate Gigi to the SPCA.

Baad­jies claimed own­er­ship of the dog on Mon­day af­ter read­ing about the res­cue mis­sion in the me­dia.

“All I want to do is re­store my in­tegrity and carry on with my life,” he said yes­ter­day.

The agree­ment has averted a bit­ter and lengthy court bat­tle, with both Baad­jies and the SPCA, where the dog has been cared for since it was res­cued, vow­ing to fight tooth and nail for own­er­ship.

Iwan Schoe­man, from El­liot, Maris, Wil­mans and Hay At­tor­neys, along with ad­vo­cate Almé Stan­ton, for the SPCA, said yes­ter­day the SPCA was will­ing to do­nate the dog to her res­cuer, War­rant Of­fi­cer John See­ley, from the North­ern Cape SAPS Search and Res­cue Unit.

See­ley was over­joyed at the de­ci­sion, and has re­named the dog Kim­ber­leigh. It is ex­pected that she will be re­leased into his care within the next few days.

Peo­ple who saw See­ley with the dog have ob­served how they share a spe­cial bond.

Schoe­man said Baad­jies’ de­ci­sion should in no way be re­garded as him aban­don­ing the dog.

“The SPCA ac­knowl­edges that he cares deeply for the dog, that he wants what is best for her, and that she ran away from home due to un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances.”

He added that Baad­jies would not be held li­able for any costs.

Baad­jies said that while it was dif­fi­cult to part with his dog, he wanted the mat­ter re­solved.

“Ev­ery­one who knows me, knows my char­ac­ter and how much I love my dog. Some­one asked me the amount of money I’d ac­cept for Gigi. Just as you can­not put a price tag on a child, I in­di­cated that there was no price that I would ac­cept for my dog.”

He added that he would like to visit the dog reg­u­larly.

Baad­jies has photographs of the Boer­boel cross pit­bull ter­rier when she was still a puppy with an iden­ti­fi­able beauty spot on her right cheek, and dis­tinct white mark­ings on her chest, paws, back of her head and tail.

He said the dog had wagged her tail and run for­ward to greet him from in­side her cage when he went to visit her at the SPCA on Mon­day.

Baad­jies thanked See­ley for risk­ing his life in the res­cue mis­sion.

“We have had Gigi for the past four years and gave away the lit­ter of pup­pies she had four months ago. See­ley is not just Gigi’s hero, but mine as well.”

‘The SPCA ac­knowl­edges that he cares deeply for the dog and that he wants what is best for her’

Mem­bers of the pub­lic ac­cused him of be­ing neg­li­gent for al­low­ing the dog to jump over the fence, and be­lieved he should be held li­able for the res­cue fees.

The costs that were car­ried by the res­cue teams in­volved are es­ti­mated to be in the re­gion of R40 000.

Spokesman for the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Sello Mat­sie, said they were not able to quan­tify the costs of the res­cue mis­sion at this stage, al­though it would usu­ally be for the ac­count of the owner of the dog.

Kim­ber­ley SPCA in­spec­tor Mario van der Westhuizen pointed out that strin­gent cri­te­ria had to be met be­fore a dog was re­leased into the care of any owner.

“Our pri­mary con­cern is to pro­vide the dog with a lov­ing home, where she will be given the best care pos­si­ble.”

Van der Westhuizen re­ceived hun­dreds of re­quests from Kim­ber­ley, Eng­land, Aus­tralia, Saudi Ara­bia and Canada to adopt the dog, along with one cash of­fer of R20 000.

“We want to keep the dog in Kim­ber­ley, and also gave first pref­er­ence to any mem­ber of the res­cue team,” he said.

The dog was given a clean bill of health af­ter she was ex­am­ined by ve­teri­nary sur­geon Clau­dine Craw­ford.

PIC­TURE: DANIE VAN DER LITH

LUCKY DOG: Gigi, re­named Kim­ber­leigh, with her res­cuer, War­rant Of­fi­cer John See­ley from the North­ern Cape SAPS Search and Res­cue Unit.

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