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Mu$$$t Love Dogs

July 1, 2008 |  9:08 pm

Maybe she did it because she hated people and loved dogs.

Whatever the reason, if the two folks who described Leona Helmsley's ''mission statement'' to the New York Times are right, the Queen of Mean might have left something between 5 and $8 billion dollars to care for needy canines.

The statement may not be legally binding, but if it sticks, the newspaper says even the lowball figure of Helmsley's trust, $5 billion, could provide at least ten times more money to care for dogs than all the assets of every one of the animal-related nonprofit groups reporting to the IRS a few years ago.

Helmsley died last year. She served prison time for tax evasion -- she was famously quoted by a former housekeeper as saying, ''Only the little people pay taxes.''  Evidently a few of the ''little people'' were so furious at Helmsley for leaving several million to her own dog, Trouble, that they threatened the pooch's life -- which meant the estate had to spend even more to protect the Maltese.

Now it's billions-with-a-b, not millions, that might be dedicated not to not one dog, but to the care and shelter and welfare of thousands upon thousands of the nation's blameless, homeless, abused, neglected and abandoned dogs, for decades to come.

Me, I'm all for it. Maybe Helmsley didn't get past the velvet rope at a human heaven, but she'd be welcomed with open paws in dog heaven -- which, from the sound of it, is the place she'd rather spend eternity, anyway.

-- Patt Morrison

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