NEW YORK, NY – In a two-page “mission statement” attached to her will, hotelier and real estate magnate Leona Helmsley specified that her entire estate is to be used for the care and welfare of dogs.
The estate is estimated at between $5 billion and $8 billion, and could provide a perpetual annual return of at least $400 million to benefit dogs.
Not surprisingly, many organizations are trying to get a piece of this money.
Two well-known radical animal rights groups have announced their intentions to apply for this funding: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Both of these groups espouse an ideology that wholly contradicts Ms. Helmsley’s intentions and beliefs. HSUS and PETA want to eliminate dogs from our lives.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges dog owners from every state to contact the Helmsley Foundation to help assure that Mrs. Helmsley’s estate is used for its intended purposes. We are asking dog owners to let the estate trustees know your ideas for how the money should be spent, suggest groups and organizations that you feel are worthy of financial assistance and also to caution them about the HSUS and PETA applications.
Nothing worse could happen to dogs (and dog owners) than for PETA and HSUS to grab a large chunk of this money. It would be used to drive dogs and dog ownership toward extinction.
Please send “hard copy” letters by U.S. Mail to:
Howard J. Rubenstein and Trustees Leona and Harry B. Helmsley Foundation, Inc. 230 Park Avenue New York, NY 10169-0005
Here is our letter to the Helmsley Foundation, which you may want to use as a starting point in writing your own letters:
The American Sporting Dog Alliance truly is thankful for Leona Helmsley’s decision to leave most of her estate to help dogs. This is a godsend!
As we understand it, Mrs. Helmsley’s intention was for this money to be used directly to benefit the care and welfare of dogs. Many excellent organizations will be seeking funds from this trust to help them to operate vital programs to benefit dogs. However, other organizations have agendas that utterly contradict Mrs. Helmsley’s intentions, and we urge you to use extreme caution in reviewing applications from The Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and similar groups.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance will not be applying for funding from this trust, as our policy is to maintain strict independence to serve our members. However, we are offering our assistance to help you sort through and evaluate applications for funding. We would be happy to serve as consultants and would volunteer our services at no cost to you. We share Mrs. Helmsley’s love of dogs and concerns about their welfare, and we care deeply that her incredible gift will be used for its intended purpose. Our mission is to work for the welfare of dogs and to protect the rights and traditions of dog owners. We consider the relationship between dogs and people to be one of the most beautiful parts of life.
The potential for the Helmsley fund to do good things is enormous. Quite literally, it could lay the foundation to solve every problem facing dogs in America today. This is not an exaggeration.
Here are some worthy possibilities for funding support:
Many pets are abandoned or taken to shelters every year because people cannot handle behavioral problems. This is one of the major causes of shelter admissions. Funding could provide free or low-cost professional assistance to dog owners to overcome behavior issues in order to provide long-term loving homes for many dogs. The vast majority of behavioral issues are easily corrected, but many people simply don’t know how to do it.
Social factors are the five leading causes of dogs being taken to animal shelters. These include divorce, home foreclosure, job transfers and landlord issues. Funding could provide foster care for these dogs until their owners’ lives have stabilized and they can bring their pets back home, or until new homes can be found.
The cost of veterinary care has skyrocketed, leaving many low-and-middle-income people unable to afford medical care for their dogs. This causes many dogs with treatable medical conditions to be euthanized. A perpetual loan fund could be created to help low/middle-income people to afford the cost of veterinary care, with reimbursement according to a person’s ability to repay the loan. Financially-strapped elderly and disabled people would be exempt from repayment. Another fund could provide low-cost veterinary insurance for middle-income people who often have to make difficult choices with limited resources.
Too many dogs are euthanized in animal shelters every year. This is not because there are too many dogs. The number of homeless dogs actually has dropped by more then 50% over the past 10 years. The reason for the continuing high euthanasia rates could be described as a failure of management to implement “no-kill” strategies, and a failure of government at all levels to provide adequate funding to operate an effective shelter program. Funding from the Helmsley Trust could help animal shelters to implement “no-kill” strategies such as public outreach, foster care and adoption assistance programs.
Rescue groups make heroic efforts to help dogs in need, and thousands of dogs find new homes every year because of the dedication of rescuers. They help dogs that have lost their homes due to death, severe illness, divorce and financial hardship. Some rescue groups are well funded, but most are not. These groups need the resources to be able to accept dogs before they enter the shelter system, and then to care for them until good homes can be found. A toll-free rescue hotline also could be included in every Yellow Page listing for animal shelters as an alternative to municipal facilities.
The unsung heroes of the dog world are the dedicated people who raise purebred dogs. Fanciers of various breeds have performed miracles over the years by providing dogs that are healthier, have fewer genetic problems and have better dispositions than at any time in human history. They have funded genetic research and testing, are the backbone behind the breed rescue movement, have voluntarily instituted stringent buyer protection programs, have required spaying and neutering of all purebreds that are not exemplary specimens of their breed, and stand behind every puppy they raise from birth until death. Purebred dogs from conscientious fanciers have predictable characteristics, come from known backgrounds and have received truly superb care. Funding for genetic research and testing, and breed rescue groups, is vital to make sure that high quality puppies are available that will spend their lifetimes as valued members of loving families.
The pet store trade has spawned a proliferation of large commercial breeding kennels to meet the consumer demand for puppies. Although most of these large kennels provide an acceptable level of physical care, they cannot provide an ideal environment because of their sheer size. Some of these kennels could be described as “puppy mills,” because their dogs receive poor care and are exploited for profit. Laws and governmental regulation have proven to be ineffective tools because of the high consumer demand for pet store puppies, and because of unwarranted and burdensome intrusions into the lives of all dog owners that result from complex laws. A better solution would be to provide financial incentives for pet stores to stop selling puppies: in essence, buying out their right to sell puppies. Instead of selling puppies directly at a retail level, they could provide referrals to reputable certified breeders of quality puppies, or for rescue groups, and receive a commission in return. Funding could help to create a breeder certification program that meets the highest standards. In addition, funding could be provided to help rescue groups buy out large commercial kennels, with contractual guarantees that would prohibit a kennel from reopening.
As we stated earlier, there is no over-population problem with dogs in most of America. The entire northern tier of states and the West Coast actually have a severe shortage of adoptable dogs, and thousands of dogs are imported every year to meet the demand. The states that do have a problem with having too many dogs are generally in the southern part of the country. Thus, the real problem from a national perspective is one of distribution. Funding could assist northern and West Coast rescue groups with their humane relocation efforts to import dogs from the few states that do have a shelter population problem.
It is rare today to find puppies in an animal shelter or rescue program because of the overwhelming success of voluntary spay and neuter programs in most parts of the country, increased public awareness and stringent leash laws that target people who let their dogs roam. An estimated 60-percent of dogs today already have been spayed or neutered. When problems exist, they tend to be in places with struggling economies and many low-income residents. Funding to provide free pet sterilization for low-income people everywhere in America would go a long way to solving this problem.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance would be happy to assist you in funding decisions to implement any or all of these goals, or to develop other goals to benefit the welfare of dogs. We also have dedicated officers and members in every state who would be happy to offer their assistance.
We are aware that two well-known national organizations will be seeking funding from the Helmsley Foundation, but would strongly caution you against supporting them. They are the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Both of these organizations support an agenda that wholly contradicts Mrs. Helmsley’s beliefs and intentions.
The ultimate goal of both HSUS and PETA is the total extinction of all domestic animals, including dogs. They consider all relationships between people and dogs to be a form of exploitation – even beloved household companions that are members of loving families. While HSUS rhetoric sounds more moderate than PETA on the surface, the goal of the two organizations is the same. They want to reduce the number of dogs and the number of people who own dogs as quickly as possible, while working for changes in societal norms that make dog ownership unappealing to people. Their goal is a future without dogs. Mrs. Helmsley would be appalled by their agenda.
Both organizations have strongly opposed “no-kill” animal shelters, and favor programs that result in the impoundment and euthanasia of as many dogs as possible. For example, HSUS consistently supports animal cruelty laws that are targeted against private “no-kill” shelters. HSUS and PETA also consistently favor legislation that does everything possible to discourage dog ownership, imposes heavy fines and liabilities for dog ownership, and mandates the involuntary sterilization of all dogs.
As HSUS President Wayne Pacelle said of his goal: “One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals.” Goodbye, dogs. His plan is to accomplish this by laws that mandate pet sterilization, and make it almost impossible for someone to raise a litter of puppies.
In spite of its name, the Humane Society of the United States has no relationship to local humane societies. It does not operate a single shelter. It does not help a single dog. It provides very little funding to help shelters. In 2006, for example, HSUS (with a net worth of $113 million) gave only 4.2% of its $85 million operating budget to animal shelters. The vast majority of HSUS expenditures are for fund-raising. What’s left goes to political lobbying.
HSUS also has a horrible track record of misusing the funds it raises to benefit animals. A study of HSUS fund-raising in California, for example, concluded that only 11.3% of the money collected was left over after fund-raising expenses were deducted. With PETA, only 28% of the money was available after fund-raising costs were deducted. The national average is 46%.
There also have been some scandals involving HSUS funding. For example, the organization raised a lot of money to help the dogs rescued from Michael Vicks’ dog fighting operation. Insiders say that not one penny actually was used to help those dogs. It all went to HSUS publicity. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reportedly asked HSUS to cease this campaign, because damage was being done to the prosecution’s case against Vicks. Problems also were reported in the HSUS involvement with the effort to rescue dogs following Hurricane Katrina.
In New York, HSUS employed a company called Share Group to raise funds. In 2000, Share Group gave HSUS only $16,543 of the $1.08 million it raised in New York (a return of only 1.53%). In 2004, Share Group raised over $1 million in HSUS’s name, but lost money. HSUS wound up paying about $173,000 to Share Group.
Unfortunately, PETA does operate an animal shelter, although calling it that is an aberration. It recent years, PETA has killed between 91-percent and 97-percent of the animals it has received at its Norfolk, VA, shelter. In 1996, PETA took in 1,030 dogs and killed 988 of them, while finding homes for only eight. That year, PETA hauled in $30 million in revenues. None of this money went to help dogs. Not one penny was used to save the life of a dog, or to give it a better life.
PETA’s actual kill statistics might be much worse, as apparently many dogs picked up by shelter employees never make it out of the truck alive. A pair of PETA employees were charged with 31 counts of animal cruelty after they were observed throwing dead dogs in garbage bags into a dumpster behind a grocery store only a couple of hours after they were “rescued” from a nearby animal shelter. North Carolina and Virginia authorities report that hundreds of other dead dogs wrapped in garbage bags have been found in local dumpsters and strewn along riverbanks.
Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s president, appears to take convoluted personal pleasure in killing dogs. She has written that she has personally killed thousands of dogs, and that she starts every work day in the euthanasia room.
In an interview with Harper’s Magazine, she said: “Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.” She calls for the “total liberation” of all dogs, which means their extinction.
In closing, we again wish to express our deep gratitude to Mrs. Helmsley’s estate for its wonderful generosity toward dogs. We strongly support the estate trustees in their commitment to honor her wishes, and offer our assistance in any way that we are needed.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, hobby breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. Please visit us on the web at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by the donations of our members, and maintain strict independence.
I will be writing a letter this week. I think it's sickening how PETA leeches resources that could be used to accomplish something good. They use their donations for ad campaigns that do little more than get them more donations. While I do disagree with many of HSUS's policies, at least they do some good. They did the invesitgation on the Pets of Belaire and got Oprah to do a show on puppymills. Unlike PETA, HSUS picks a cause and sticks with it, instead of finding a new one everyweek. I think the money should go to an organization like the ASPCA. The more cruelty investigators in this country the better. The sad thing is, most of that money will go for political lobbying and adminstative costs.