Greyt Inspirations Life

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Helmsley money not going to the dogs

Leona Helmsley is in the news again, even though the hotel queen died in 2007. That’s because Helmsley’s $5 billion estate is finally being distributed to charity.

Leona Helmsley and Trouble.  Helmsley's estate will be divided among all kinds of charities.

Leona Helmsley and Trouble. Helmsley's estate will be divided among all kinds of charities.

You may remember that Helmsley’s death caused, well, rejoicing among dog lovers because she left most of it to the dogs. Not just to her own dog, the little Maltese Trouble, who was supposed to inherit $12 million. Helmsley left nearly all of her enormous estate to dog charities.

Well, a couple of years have passed and things have changed. Trouble’s portion of the estate has been reduced from $12 million to a measly $2 million (it costs an estimated $100,000 a year just to provide security for the little dog). And a Manhattan judge ruled in February that Helmsley’s trustees had sole discretion in allocating money from her estate. They could distribute the money to whatever charities they saw fit. They didn’t have to limit themselves to dog groups.

This week the Helmsley trustees began announcing the first of their grants. Out of the first $136 million distributed most of the money went to medical centers and not to dog organizations. Only $1 million, so far, has gone to dogs.

That little change in direction has some people very, shall we say, disappointed.

“This is a trifling and embarrassingly small amount,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Mrs. Helmsley’s wishes are clearly being subverted.”

Mr. Pacelle said, “We are extremely disappointed that less than 1 percent of the allocation announced is going to animal-related organizations, and only one-tenth of 1 percent is going to animal welfare organizations.”

“We are in touch,” he continued, “with the interested parties and are hoping to have a satisfactory resolution — a much larger percentage than 1 percent.”

The $1 million for animal rights and welfare was divided equally among 10 charities, including the A.S.P.C.A. and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Uh huh. Now the Humane Society of the United States is not a poor organization. They have assets of over $200 million themselves. They have total annual revenue of $100,000,000. And that doesn’t include all of their spin-off organizations like the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the other groups that they operate, such as Humane Society International. I guess that’s why they consider $1 million a trifling sum. But they do depend a lot on snapping up estates from the elderly. I’m sure that it is very disappointing for them not to be receiving the millions or billions they hoped to be getting from Mrs. Helmsley’s estate. Poor Wayne.

Just for the record, HSUS does not operate your local humane society or animal shelter. Those are locally run and HSUS does not contribute to their expenses. When you donate to HSUS the money does not go to your local animal shelter. If you want to help your local shelter you should donate directly to them. HSUS is a national organization that uses their money for lobbying, legislation and fundraising, not helping animals in shelters.

I am actually undecided how I feel about Mrs. Helmsley’s estate and the judge’s actions. I think people should have the right to leave their estates as they wish, and that should include leaving them to their pets. But, gee whiz. The bulk of $5 billion? That’s a lot of money. I can’t help thinking that money can help a lot of people, too.

Maybe the most important thing here is that the money is being used to do some good, one way or another. Some of it is being used to help dogs and a lot of it is being used to help people. But both ways the money is doing good.

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April 22, 2009 - Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , , ,

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