If Leona Helmsley was betrayed as much in life as she is being betrayed in death, it’s easy to understand why she might have become the bitch — and we’re not talking female dog — she was so often portrayed as.
In the latest development with the wealth she left behind, a second judge has ruled, in effect, that the foundation divvying up her fortune among charitable groups need not follow her express wish that much of that money be spent on the care of dogs.
The judge denied a bid by the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and other animal groups to get a larger share of Helmsley’s billions.
Although Helmsley directed a share of her massive fortune go to “the care of dogs” — that being in addition to the $12 million she asked be left to her own dog — the Helmsley Foundation’s trustees have seen fit to dispense most of the foundation money among organizations that have little or nothing to do with canines.
According to the animal welfare groups, only about $100,000 of the $450 million the foundation has given away has gone to dog causes.
The dog charities argued they should have standing to challenge how the foundation gives away its money in light of Helmsley’s written statements and last wishes. Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS, called the $100,000 received so far ”a trifling amount, and contrary to Helmsley’s intentions.”
Surrogate’s Court Judge Nora Anderson in Manhattan rejected the bid by the animal welfare organizations to intervene in the case, agreeing with a judge who ruled earlier that the trustees have sole discretion in how to distribute the money, the New York Post reported yesterday.
She said she feared the groups’ challenge could open the floodgates to countless lawsuits from dog organizations around the world.
It’s hardly the first time Helmsley’s last wishes have been overruled since her death: Of that $12 million she left in her will for the care of her Maltese, named Trouble, a judge reduced the amount to $2 million.
Beyond what she intended to leave for the care and feeding of Trouble, Helmsley had another $5 to $8 billion, according to estimates of the trust’s worth.
Helmsley, who died in 2007, wrote in a 2004 mission statement for the trust that she wanted that money used for “1) purposes related to the provision or care of dogs and 2) such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.”
In 2009, though, the Surrogate’s Court found that the mission statement did not place any legal restrictions on what donations could be made from the trust.
Later that year, the ASPCA, the Humane Society and Maddie’s Fund, filed a motion asking the court to vacate its earlier order and allow them to intervene. The primary interest of those groups was not, of course, in seeing solely that Helmsley’s wishes were honored, but neither, it seems, are the foundation’s. The animal welfare groups’ goals seem more aligned with her wishes, though.
By all descriptions, the so-called ”queen of mean” was a hard-hearted woman, with one soft spot — dogs.
The foundation doling out her fortune doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of respect for dogs, or for Helmsley.
I’m no legal expert, just a dog lover, and I’m not asking for Trouble. But if I arranged to leave my fortune – non-existent though it may currently be — to my dog Ace, or anywhere else, and you didn’t carry out my wishes, you can be sure I’d be back to haunt you.
I’d show you mean.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, aspca, bequeath, bequest, billions, bitch, charities, death, dogs, editorial, fortune, groups, helmsley foundation, hsus, humane society of the united states, inheritance, intervene, judge, leona helmsley, mean, organizations, pets, queen of mean, ruling, trouble, wayne pacelle, will
Time to reopen the annals of stupid human behavior and make room for Stacey Champion — a Minneapolis woman who attempted to air-mail a puppy to her 11-year-old son in Atlanta.
Champion, 39, was charged with animal cruelty after postal workers discovered the 4-month-old puppy inside a sealed package she had dropped off, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Champion told a postal clerk the box contained a toy robot. A Minneapolis police spokesman said the puppy would not have survived the trip.
The Star Tribune says that, while the package was still in the post office, it moved by itself and fell to the floor, surprising postal workers. Within minutes, postal employees unwrapped the tightly sealed box and pulled out the panting puppy.
The dog, described as a poodle-Schnauzer mix, named Guess, was placed in a shelter, costing Champion $250 in fees. Today, Champion tried to convince an administrative hearing officer to return Guess to her custody. (See the hearing in its entirety in the video above.)
Champion said in the hearing that she didn’t know dogs couldn’t be mailed. “They say they deliver,” she noted. She further explained to the judge, “If there weren’t no mistakes in life, society wouldn’t be what it is now.”
We can’t argue with that one.
Champion also went back to the post office and demanded she be refunded the $22 priority mail fee, according to the Star Tribune. That request was denied.
The judge called her actions disgraceful and declined to return the dog to her.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air-mailed, animal cruelty, animals, atlanta, custody, dog, dogs, guess, hearing, judge, live, mailed, mailed dog, minneapolis, pets, police, poodle, post office, postal, postal service, puppy, return, schnauzer, stacey champion, stupid, stupidity, video
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill has ruled in favor of the prosecution on several important pre-trial motions in the case of Travers and Tremaine Johnson, twins charged with animal cruelty in the death of a pit bull who came to be known as Phoenix.
The judge ruled that a woman who identified the brothers to police can testify. In addition, he ruled that prosecutors may use a statement by Travers Johnson to police, as well as a city surveillance video.
The trial continues today, with more pretrial motions and jury selection, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The brothers are accused of putting gasoline on a pit bull puppy in May 2009, then setting her on fire. Burned over 95 percent of her body, the dog had to be euthanized days later when her organs failed.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burning, court, cruelty to animals, dogs, dousing, fire, gasoline, johnson, judge, motions, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, prosecution, rulings, travers, tremaine, trial, twins
A judge in Pennsylvania has rejected a Pittsburgh-area man’s petition to change his name from Gary Guy Mathews to “Boomer the Dog.”
Mathews, 44, is an unemployed computer technician and a follower of the ”furry” lifestyle, which celebrates giving human characteristics to animals. He sought the name change because he’s a big fan of the short-lived 1980s NBC show “Here’s Boomer.”
His obsession with the Boomer character led him to create a giant dog costume made from shredded newspaper, which he now wears at home and to conventions.
Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald W. Folino, after hearing Mathews request Tuesday, denied it on Wednesday on the grounds it could cause confusion and possibly put “the public welfare at risk,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The denial, which came in a page and a half-ruling, sounded almost as convoluted as the request:
What if, the judge wrote, Boomer the Dog witnessed a serious auto accident and telephoned police? “The dispatcher on the phone queries as to the caller’s identity, and the caller responds, ‘This is Boomer the Dog.’ It is not a stretch to imagine the telephone dispatcher concluding that the call is a prank and refusing to send an emergency medical response.”
“Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, I’ll just have to look into it,” Mathews said after the decision. “All I know is that I’ve been trying to realize my identity for a long time, like many people have I guess.”
Furries, the Post-Gazette reports, have become fairly common around Pittsburgh, which for five years has hosted the movement’s largest annual convention.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, boomer, boomer the dog, conventions, court, denial, denies, dog, dogs, furries, furry, gary guy mathews, gary mathews, here's boomer, judge, law, lifestyle, name, name change, ohmidog!, petition, pets, pittsburgh, ronald w. folino, show, television, tv
An email campaign, aimed at ensuring dachshund killer Dudley Ramsay receive a full two-year sentence for fatally bashing his dog against a bathtub, failed to produce the intended result.
Ramsay was sentenced to just four months in prison on Friday by New York Judge Michael Gary.
Ramsay, of Fort Greene, was convicted of aggravated animal cruelty in March for disciplining the 5-month-old dog, named Junior, by smashing him against a bathtub, causing six fractured ribs and damage to the pup’s lungs and liver, according to The Brooklyn Paper. Then he waited several hours before taking the dog to a veterinary hospital, where he died.
An email campaign was launched after Ramsay’s conviction by Mike Szymanski, of Greenwood Heights, who owns three dachshunds and writes the Dachshund Examiner for Examiner.com.
“This is a tragedy,” said Szymanski, who noted Ramsay had freely admitted by then to killing another dachshund earlier. The sentence, he said, “is a fraction of what Ramsay certainly deserves. It was a slap on the wrist and showed that the judge didn’t care.”
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said it received over 100 emails from pet owners across the country, demanding that Ramsay gets the maximum sentence. Deputy District Attorney Carol Moran pushed for the maximum sentence, the spokesman said, but the sentencing decision rested with the judge.
“People have to realize that Dachshund lovers can be way more radical than the Tea Party if we find out than an injustice has been done,” Szymanski said. “This is something that could cost this judge his office.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, bathtub, campaign, dachshund, dachshund examiner, district attorney, dudley ramsay, email, fort greene, gary, judge, killed, killer, light, michael, mike szymanski, new york, news, ohmidog!, pets, sentence
A former Los Angeles County assistant fire chief was sentenced to 90 days of weekend jail time and 400 hours of community service for beating his neighbor’s dog so severely with a rock that she had to be euthanized.
Animal activists packed a courtroom in Riverside to hear the, which also requires Glynn Johnson, 55, to take anger management courses and pay the veterinary bills, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Johnson , accused of using a 12-pound rock to repeatedly strike a 6-month-old German-shepherd mix named Karley, was convicted in January of animal cruelty.
Johnson claimed he was freeing himself after the puppy clamped its mouth on his hand as he walked her home to his neighbor. Witnesses disputed that and said Johnson attacked the dog without reason.
Johnson apologized to the owners, but said he would appeal the sentence.
Karley’s owners, Jeff and Shelley Toole, said in court that Johnson should get the maximum sentence of more than four years in prison.
“If (Karley) did this to you, her punishment would be death,” Jeff Toole said. “And if I were a judge that would be the punishment for you too, but I’m not a judge. You’re a danger society and you need to be locked up before you hurt someone else.”
Judge J. Thompson Hanks said he considered Johnson’s lack of criminal record and service as a firefighter in the lighter sentence. The judge specified that Johnson’s community service include working with dogs.
“You don’t see this kind of outpouring from the community in many cases, including the death of children,” Hanks said. “As a judge, I have to balance. I have to consider the conduct of the individual who did it and the appropriate punishment.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, assistant chief, beaten, county, court, department, dog, dogs, fire, firefighter, german shepherd, glynn johnson, j. thompson hanks, jeff toole, judge, karley, los angeles, mix, news, ohmidog!, pets, riverside, rock, sentence, shelley toole, trial
According to the old saying — at least as old as Shakespeare — every dog has his day.
In California they just got an extra one.
Interpreting a regulation that sets the “holding period” for a stray dog impounded in a public or private animal shelter at “six business days” (or, if certain exceptions apply, “four business days”), a state appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that Saturdays don’t count as business days.
The ruling was the first to interpret a 1998 California law that increased the holding periods for public and private shelters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The ruling will affect Contra Costa County Animal Services and all other counties and cities with similar policies.
The case goes back to 2006, when a miniature pinscher named Duke, was impounded at a county shelter in Pinole on a Thursday. The shelter held the dog until the following Wednesday, when another person took him. Duke’s owner, Veena Purifoy, went to the shelter the next day the following to find him gone.
She sued both the county and the new owner, who relinquished Duke in a settlement, Evans said. The suit against the county challenged its claim that the shelter had held the dog for the required four business days.
Overturning a judge’s ruling in the county’s favor, the appeals court said the state law did not define business days but was intended to increase holding periods from the pre-1998 law, which required a 72-hour hold.
Excluding Saturday as a business day serves “the legislative goal of access, because longer holding periods will often provide more opportunities for redemption and adoption,” Justice Martin Jenkins said in the 3-0 ruling.
(Photo from Cafepress.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, california, contra costa, control, days, duke, euthanasia, every dog has its day, holding period, impound, impounded, judge, law, lawsuit, limits, rescue, ruling, services, shakespeare, shelters, state appeals court, strays, time, tom hayden, veena purifoy
A Houston-area kennel worker claims the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was, basically, his idea, and that the Walt Disney Company stole it from him.
Zenon Yracheta has sued the entertainment giant in federal court, saying the similarities between the movie and a story he wrote called “The 3 Chihuahuas” are many — and that he spoke with Disney officials about his idea in 2006.
Disney has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the movie, which was released last year and grossed $130 million, bears little resemblance to Yracheta’s script, according to the Houston Chronicle.
While both stories feature hero dogs, villain dogs, talking dogs, traveling dogs and chase scenes, they have vastly different premises, Disney says.
In Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” a pampered California Chihuahua is taken by its owner’s niece to Mexico, gets lost, nearly winds up in a dog-fighting ring but escapes and is chased by a mean fight master, a sidekick and his nasty dog before finding her roots, romance, and her way back home.
In “The 3 Chihuahuas,” three Chihuahuas escape from their jobs as acrobats in a South Texas circus and head to Hollywood while pursued by their mean ringmaster, a sidekick and his nasty dog. As with the movie, the Chihuahuas have different ethnic personas. In the end they are rescued by a kind woman who turns out to be Beyoncé Knowles’ aunt. The three dogs eventually wind up living in a California mansion with the singer.
Yracheta said he was enraged when he saw the movie last year, jotting down the similarities between the film and his story.
Yracheta said he got the idea for “The 3 Chihuahuas” after three Chihuahuas ran in front of his car in a rural town near Houston. He worked up a three-page story, then commissioned a screenwriter to write the screenplay.
Disney denies the screenwriters saw or were told about his work.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beverly hills chihuahua, chihuahuas, court, dogs, entertainment, federal court, houston, idea, industry, judge, kennel worker, lawsuit, movie, movies, screenplay, similarities, stolen, storyline, The 3 chihuahuas, walt disney company, writer, writing, Zenon Yracheta
A Maryland man who tied his dog outside in a hot July sun, with fatal consequences, was ordered to spend 90 days in jail and do 50 hours of community service.
Judge Janice Rodnick Ambrose suggested Michael Patrick Flemming, 24, of Thurmont, do his community service at the Frederick County Animal Control shelter, the Frederick News-Post reported.
“They may not want you,” Ambrose said Tuesday in District Court. “But I think you should have to work with animals for what you’ve done.”
Convicted of four misdemeanor charges in the July 25, 2009, death of Taurus, a 3-year-old black and brown Rottweiler, Flemming offered a brief statement: “There’s no amount of time you can give me that will erase what I have to deal with every day.”
“‘He was my baby,’” Flemming said in a two-page handwritten statement. “‘I loved him almost more than anyone in my life.’”
Flemming told the court he’d put his dog out to urinate, went inside and fell asleep. He didn’t mention that he chained the dog to a stake, without water, an omission the judge pointed out.
“You tied your dog up. That’s why you are here today,” Ambrose said. “Your poor dog is dead because you didn’t love it enough to take care of it.”
A landscaper found the 112-pound dog unconscious in the middle of Flemming’s yard and contacted animal control officers, according to court documents.
Flemming has a sentencing hearing set for next week on fleeing and eluding charges, and another hearing next month on drug charges, according to court documents.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal cruelty, cahined, community servie, court, death, died, dog, frederick, frederick county, heat, janice rodnick ambrose, judge, july, maryland, michael patrick flemming, neglect, news, punishment, rottweiler, sentence, stake, sun, tethered, thurmont, tied
A jury in Richmond has found Richard E. Robinson guilty and recommended a 10-year prison sentence — the longest prison term in Virginia’s history for a dogfighting conviction.
The jury deliberated two hours yesterday to reach its verdict, only 40 more minutes before coming back with a recommendation of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Robinson, 32, was found guilty of three felonies and one misdemeanor related to a dogfighting operation at his South Richmond home.
Richmond prosecutors and animal-control authorities said they are unaware of any dogfighting sentences in Virginia longer than four years. The 10-year sentence, if upheld by Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals, would be twice as long as any handed down in the state, and more than five times longer than Michael Vick’s federal sentence. Formal sentencing is scheduled for March 5.
The conviction and sentence recommendation came after prosecutor Alex Taylor introduced evidence from the property where Robinson lived with his mother, including heavy chains that had been tied around the necks of dogs to help them build strength.
One of the chains weighed 52 pounds — more than the dog to whom it was attached. The prosecutors brought the chain to court in a red plastic bucket, and while arguing for a lengthy sentence, Taylor carried the pail over to the jury box and dropped it with a thud.
“This,” he said, “is no way to treat man’s best friend.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 10 years, animal fighting, animals, beverly w. snukals, chains, circuit court, convicted, conviction, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, judge, jury, law, michael vick, penalties, penalty, pets, prison, prosecution, recommendation, record, richard e. robinson, richmond, sentence, virginia