Amber Valley sticks to their guns — Mr Cat has to go

2015-02-17 00:00

HOWICK’S Amber Valley board of trustees have said Mr Cat has to go.

The heartbreaking story of an elderly woman, Sylvia Reid (88), having to part with her beloved Mr Cat due to a spat within ­Amber Valley went viral this weekend and gathered massive online support.

The online petition created by British­ ­citizen Cheryl van Dyk has collected over 17 000 signatures in two days, all in support of Reid keeping her furry friend.

However, Amber Valley’s body corporate have stood firm, saying that after careful ­consideration they have decided that Mr Cat has to go.

“We are unfortunately faced with a very difficult situation in view of complaints ­received from the neighbours of the owner regarding the wandering habits of the cat in question.

“We have every sympathy with the owner and have tried very hard to mediate between the concerned parties — we have unfortunately had no success in our endeavours.

“This matter has been extant for a ­number of months and we have now come to the stage where the issue requires to be resolved.”

The board of trustees said while they ­appreciated the sentiments expressed in the online petition and Facebook, they had a ­duty of care to all their members, including the complainants, and did “not envisage any other solution to the problem”.

Letters of support for the elderly pair poured in to The Witness yesterday offering words of comfort and alliance to Mr Cat and Reid.

A letter from Susan Kemp said it was ­essential for the feline and Reid’s health that they stay together.

“The impact of pets on the health and happiness of the aged have been proved many times over.

“A separation of Granny and Mr Cat would break her heart and affect her health badly. It is a precarious stage of life. Anything can tip the scales,” she said.

Another letter from Pietermaritzburg local Hereen Godley said that those complaining about Mr Cat along with the body corporate “should be ashamed of themselves”.

“All Mr Cat wants is to live out his days in the company of the people he loves and trusts. Sylvia and her daughter Penny Reid obtained permission to keep him, thus they are not in contravention of any ­conduct rules.”

A Howick NPO bequest officer Val Hollis wrote in and said she was heartbroken for Reid and Mr Cat.

“I am totally devastated to read an elderly person is being forced to relinquish — or rather, have her companion, her reason for getting up in the morning, euthanased.”

• chelsea.pieterse

Debate sparks mixed views

MR Cat’s story received many messages of support on the online article on News24.

Reader Shannon Bezuijen said, ­“Everything is blown out of proportion in a retirement village. Small issues become so huge. When there’s nothing else to do but to complain, this is what happens. This cat can be your best friend. Rather a cat than someone moaning at you all the time.”

Reader Nichola Smith agreed with Bezuijen and said when she retires she would only look at villages that allowed animals.

“I am in my fifties and when I start looking at my retirement homes I will definitely only look at those that allow pets. How cruel and ridiculous.

“I will never desert my pets. Frankly the neighbours should stop whining and enjoy the ‘visits’. Hope I don’t become old and crabby,” she said.

However, not all comments supported Mr Cat and Reid’s friendship.

Reader Daurel Mergui said “as heartless as this body corporate appears to be, permission is always given on condition that there is no explicit breach of the rules or conditions set out by the trustees.

“Pet ownership in sectional title is a privilege and not a right. There are always two sides to a dispute so it would be left to an arbitrator to decide on the fate of the pet … Bodies corporate must enforce rules to ensure dangerous precedents are not set.”

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