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 jwoestendiek 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
Humans, as Steve Markwell sees it, create bad dogs. So humans have the responsibility to rehabilitate them.
“When people create these monsters, I think it’s people’s responsibility to take care of them. Not to just kill everything because it’s inconvenient,” Markwell says in the Times article. “The fact that they have their quirks, the extra things you have to be cautious of, in some ways it’s almost endearing. It’s kind of like, the world hates you, but I don’t.”
The Olympic Animal Sanctuary, located in the Olympic Peninsula rain forest, caters to dogs who would be euthanized or turned away at other shelters.
Among the more than 50 dogs now there are guard dogs who once belonged to drug dealers, wolf hybrids with violent pasts, and Snaps, the pit bull mix who made headlines south of Seattle in June when he attacked two women on the command of his owner, a 15-year-old girl.
“This vicious monster of a dog, he’s the sweetest thing in the world,” he said. Snaps is now one of the few dogs allowed to roam uncaged inside the sanctuary’s main building.
Markwell said the secret of rehabilitating the dogs is giving them space, exuding quiet kindness and corralling like-minded dogs together, allowing for socialization and management of bad behavior rather than trying to immediately eliminate it.
He scoffs at “dog whisperers” and rejects potential volunteers who say they have a “spiritual kinship” with animals, the article says.
“I have absolutely no place for people like that because they’re dangerous,” he said. “What it takes is common sense and experience. That whole ‘animals like me’ — well, animals like me too. But I take a really bad bite about once a month. Let’s not rely on that as our safety mechanism.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bad, bad dogs, behavior, dog, dogs, mean, nasty, olympic animal sanctuary, peninsula, rehabilitate, rehabilitation, rescue, sanctuary, sea-tac, seattle, snaps, steve markwell, training, vicious, violent
Nobody has busted out of the Idaho Correctional Center in more than 20 years, and prison officials say the credit goes to the Dirty Two Dozen — a team of snarling guard dogs that patrol the perimeter.
Their names sound friendly enough – Cookie, Bongo and Chi Chi among them — but the dogs, they say, are a mean lot, former death row inmates deemed too dangerous to be pets. Most would have been euthanized at the local pound if not for the prison duty that served as their reprieve.
The program began in 1986, when 24 dogs — German shepherds, Rottweilers and Belgian malinois, boxers and pit bulls — were placed in the space between the inner and outer chain-link fences that surround the prison.
The canines require no salary, don’t join unions and are more reliable during power outages than electrical security systems. They also seem to have a powerful deterrent effect.
“We’re basically giving them a second chance at a good, healthy life,” Corrections Officer Michael Amos, who heads the sentry dog program, told the Associated Press. ”Those same instincts that make them a bad pet make them good sentries.”
“The average offender has no problem engaging in a fight with a correctional officer — they’re used to fighting with humans. But they don’t want to mess with a 100-pound rottweiler who has an attitude and who wants to bite the snot out of them for climbing that fence,” said James Closson, a dog trainer in Boise. He arranged the donation of some overaggressive dogs to the prison when the sentry program was new.
Over the years, the dogs have bitten handlers, badly mauling a staff member who in the late 1990s entered the kennel without first making sure all the animals were caged. But no inmates locked up at the prison have been bitten, authorities said.
Interestingly, the prison also has a program in which inmates train and care for shelter dogs, designed to give the dogs a better chance of getting adopted. But those dogs, though they may have behavioral issues, aren’t as hard core as those that guard the fence.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adam golfarb, angus love, belgian malinois, boise, boxers, center, correctional, corrections, criminals, deterrence, deterrent, dogs, escapes, fence, guard, humane society, idaho, mean, pennsylvania institutional law project, perimeter, pit bulls, prison, prisoners, rottweilers, sentries, shepherds