Unlikely Heroes of the Day: Chicago Bankers Save Boots the Cat from Death Row

After a wealthy woman died, the executors of her estate couldn't stand by and let her cat be put down in spite of the directive in her will.

 |  Apr 9th 2012  |   8 Contributions


When Georgia Lee Dvorak died, she was not survived by any other relatives, and her will ordered that any cats she owned at the time of her death be humanely euthanized.

That meant 11-year-old Boots was going to have to go boots-up unless something radical was done.

And who should come to Boots's rescue but a team of the most unlikely radicals the world may ever have seen? The trust officers at the Fifth Third Bank in Chicago, who managed Dvorak's estate, just couldn't bear the thought of killing a purrfectly healthy cat simply because her owner had died.

An undated handout photo of 11-year-old Boots. Image courtesy of Fifth Third Bank

When they read over Dvorak's 1988 will, they saw she had bequeathed most of her $1.4-million estate to 12 animal charities including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Defenders of Wild Life, Nature Conservancy, Animal Protective Institute, Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago’s Animal Welfare League, the Humane Society of the United States and the World Wildlife Fund.

They couldn't help but see the contradiction between the evidence of Dvorak's desire to support humane treatment of animals and the instruction that a perfectly healthy cat should be put down.

Fifth Third trust associate Katherine Goggin found a no-kill shelter that would take Boots into its care -- Cats are Purrsons Too -- and the team asked a Cook County probate court to set aside the euthanasia provision.

The trust officers hired a team of legal sharks, who searched case law to find a precedent for ignoring the euthanasia directive in Dvorak's will.

Although no such precedent had been set in Illinois, they found several others, all of which stated that killing healthy pets is against the public policy of that state or province.

Last week, Cook County Probate Court Judge Susan Coleman agreed that there was no reason the cat should be euthanized -- which means that there's now a precedent for overriding similar will arrangements in the State of Illinois -- and allowed Fifth Third to find Boots a home rather than a grave site.

Cats Are Purrsons Too will take care of Boots for the remainder of her life and was granted an endowment of $2,000 to do so. Half of that came from Dvorak's estate, and the other half came from Fifth Third, which agreed to forego $1,000 worth of fees to make sure Boots would be OK.

It's a happy day for Boots, who, thanks to some precedent-setting bankers, didn't have to buy the farm after all.

Story via: The Chicago Tribune

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