News of Leona Helmsley’s multibillion-dollar animal-welfare bequest was a real breath of fresh air. However, I was very discouraged to read that the two biggest animal rights organizations in America already are trying to cash in on her unexpected generosity (“Animal groups out to fetch part of Helmsley estate,” Web, Business, July 2). Neither group deserves a dime.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals raised $30 million last year. Yet public records from the state of Virginia show that the group’s employees put to death more than 90 percent of the dogs and cats they took in for adoption. PETA found adoptive homes for less than 1 percent.

The Humane Society of the United States isn’t much better. Despite its name, it doesn’t operate any pet shelters. Not one. However, this “humane society” – in name only – raised more than $100 million last year.

The executors of Mrs. Helmsley’s estate should distribute her wealth exclusively to dog and cat shelters in U.S. communities. These are the organizations doing the hands-on work that large animal rights groups tend to avoid. Better yet, why not establish a real national umbrella group for humane societies? The United States has never had one before. Perhaps it’s about time.

Research director
Center for Consumer Freedom