Battle for Big Hole rescue dog is over
Owner donates her to the SPCA
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.
LUCKY DOG: Gigi, renamed Kimberleigh, with her rescuer, Warrant Officer John Seeley from the Northern Cape SAPS Search and Rescue Unit.