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Monday Jan 20, 2014

Complex wants resident to get rid of her cat

Thandi Rowe, who lives in an upmarket Hillcrest, Durban, complex Balmoral, is fighting the estate's property management company to keep her cat Sophie on the property.

Infinite wants Rowe to get rid of Sophie, who has upset some of the residents by straying onto their property. The company wants Sophie out by the end of the month. But Rowe is not prepared to give up her cat and plans on taking legal action to ensure she is never separated from Sophie, who she found abandoned at the Summerveld stables.

She raised her plight on Facebook, and has subsequently received offers from lawyers wanting to take up her fight pro bono.

Rowe's problem began two weeks ago, when she received an ultimatum from Infinite compelling her to remove Sophie or face legal action.

Rowe has been living on the estate since September 2012 and was initially granted permission to keep her pet provided it did not venture out of her property. But shortly after moving in, Sophie began to stray into the neighbours' garden and Infinite recommended that she erect a fence - an idea Rowe turned down.

Instead, Rowe suggested the user of a cat containment system, whereby  Sophie would be fitted with a magnetic collar and shocked if she ventured too close to the underground electric system fitted on the boundary of her property.

Infinite approved the system and Sophie was to wear the collar permanently. But Sopie was uncomfortable with the collar and Rowe removed it.

Rowe said she trained the cat not to cross the electrical barrier and all was well for a few months. But Sopie learnt how to 'bolt' through the barrier and Infinite received letters of complaint about her transgressions, which include: Wandering in neighbours' gardens. Roaming the banks of common areas. Chasing birds. Attempting to enter the bathroom of a resident.

Rowe believes the complaints against Sophie are unreasonable.

'Sophie hates being indoors all the time and loves to play on a tree stump at the end of my garden, Yes, she wanders a bit, but it is in her nature to do so.

'My cat is not a bird catcher and never goes chasing after the resident guinea fowl or peacocks.

'And I don't believe she would ever enter people's homes - she usually hides when she sees strangers,' Rowe said.

Believing the ultimatum is unjust and unconstitutional, Rowe took to Facebook and posted her story on Paddock's page.

Paddock, an organisation that specialises in dealing with legislation governing sectional title living, responded by conducting a case study.

Paddock believes it is unreasonable for approval to be withdrawn and the estates' management is not entitled to forcibly remove a pet from a person's possession, which can only be achieved through an order of court.

'(Since) my story appeared on Paddock's page, three attorneys have offered their services free of charge, and I also received a cash donation for legal costs from an overseas friend.'

When approached for comment, Infinite's executive member Alison Shepherd said in an e-mail: ' Our company doesn't have a view on this matter, we act on the instructions of our clients (the trustees of the estate). Your inquiry has been forwarded to the trustees.'

Sunday Tribune


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