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Monday Jan 26, 2015

Tears as St Bernard leaves Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate

A two-year legal battle to keep a family pet came to a tearful end yesterday when Theodore, a 75kg Saint Bernard, vacated his home in the plush Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate - on the orders of a high court judge.

Theodore's owner, Pathmasolahani (Rita) Abraham broke down in tears when a pet relocation company arrived at her home to pick up her dog which had lived on the estate for three years.

Her son, attorney Edward Abraham, put on a brave face as he helped load Theodore into the van.

"This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do," Rita said.

"I do not wish this on anyone. And even though there are other big dogs on the estate, we will never want this to happen to them. It is devastating," she said.

Last year the Abrahams approached the court to have Theodore stay after being told they needed to get rid of him as he exceeded the weight limit of dogs allowed on the estate.

In September, the Durban High Court ruled against the Abrahams and gave them three months to remove Theodore from the estate.

The court found that the family had breached the estate's Rule 5.1.3 that dogs there should not exceed 20kg when fully grown.

The rules also state that dogs must be small and not aggressive.

Judge Peter Olsen dismissed Abraham's argument that while Theodore was a large breed, he was not aggressive and that they were being targeted unfairly because other large breeds lived on the estate.

In October, Olsen turned down their application for leave to appeal.

The family who were preparing to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal, abandoned their bid recently and decided to re-home Theodore at Rita's daughter's home in Cape Town.

Yesterday, Theodore was driven to Johannesburg where he spent the night at a kennel. Today he will be loaded into a cargo plane and was expected to land in Cape Town by late afternoon.

He will be met in Cape Town by Rita who is flying out to meet him.

On Saturday, Edward will fly to Cape Town to be with him.

Edward said he was in the process of finding a home in Durban so that Theodore could return and live with him.

As they loaded their beloved dog into the vehicle yesterday, the family were bitter that they had to remove Theodore from the estate.

"We still feel we have done nothing wrong. The estate has used its discretion with a number of large dogs living on the estate and I still don't know why they could not do the same with Theodore.

"Just up the road from here is another St Bernard," Rita said. "This is an utter injustice."

The pet relocation vehicle pulled out of the Abrahams' home just before 9am and headed for the N3. Rita broke down in tears. "It feels like we let him down," she said.

Terry Keller, the estate manager, said in a written statement to the Daily News: "The Honourable judge made a ruling and we respect that ruling. We have been informed that the dog was removed from the estate today, but we have no comment in this regard other than the fact that the Abraham family have carried out the court's instruction.

"The judgment makes reference to other large dogs that have been removed from the property... We have no knowledge of 'another St Bernard' on the estate and it is not the policy of the association to 'unfairly target' any resident.

"The association is however responsible for upholding and enforcing of the rules of the association. Judge Olsen refers to this in the judgment as well."

Daily News

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