Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Leona's Billions

Put Helmsley's billions to use in animal shelters

Pundits in India have a saying: "Those who do good in this life will come back in the next one as a dog in America." They might be on to something. As The New York Times reported this month, the $8 billion estate of the late hotel magnate Leona Helmsley is literally going "to the dogs."

This ostentatious act of pet philanthropy may seem bizarre. But the prospect of honoring Helmsley's dying wish shines a bright light on a national animal-welfare problem, and an even brighter one on the roadblocks impeding serious progress.

So far, two familiar national animal rights groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States have announced their intentions to claim big slices of the $8 billion bounty. But neither one has the track record to handle such a responsibility.
Look at how PETA has spent the money it already has: The group raised more than $30 million last year, and found adoptive homes for 17 animals. Just 17. Meanwhile, it killed 1,815 dogs and cats -- slightly more than the number of naked interns it sent out to "save" cows, chickens, and minks.

And although much of the public (and press) consider HSUS to be an actual "humane society," its record isn't any better. The group's name hides its lack of affiliation with any hands-on pet shelter anywhere in America. Of the $85-plus million HSUS spent in 2006, it gave only 4.2 percent to pet shelters. Read More

It’s interesting to me to read people’s comments on how to use this fortune to benefit animals. Granted, this was Helmsley’s money and she can do what she wishes with it, but imagine what $8 billion dollars could do to improve the human condition in this country. Animal shelters are no doubt strapped for cash most of the time, but so are community cupboards that many families rely on for food. But that is the mentality of these anti-agriculture groups, they put the welfare of animals over that of people.

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