In Illinois, Boots has walked from a bizarre death sentence. Boots was the pet of Georgia Lee Dvorak of Berwyn, Illinois. When Dvorak died, she specified in her will that 11-year-old Boots should be put to death. However, the executor of her $1.3 million will — the Fifth Third Bank — could not get themselves to euthanize the friendly cat. So they went to court and got the language set aside in a rare judicial intervention.
Dvorak was actually a huge animal lover and left most of her money to animal charities. She rescued Boots from an abusive home and was fearful that the cat would be abused again. Rather than risk it, she wanted Boots euthanized. It was a curious order since, with a large estate, it would have been easy to specify an alternative arrangement.Bank senior president Jeffrey Schmidt said that the bank had found a loving home and didn’t want to euthanize this healthy, living animal.” Bank officials also donated cat supplies and food to Boots’ new home, a cage-free sanctuary in Andersonville.
I am trying to find the order or motion in the case. It raises an interesting question of the limits of a person in specifying conditions in a will. It is not clear from reports if the court found that provision unconscionable or whether the court found that the testator’s intent was better served by the home established for Boots. While animals are property, they have more protections than a sofa. It is not clear that a testator can order the killing of a healthy pet like some Viking King surrounded by horses and dogs. While Dvorak had the best motivations, it is unclear if such an order can be enforced. We have many Chicago readers so if anyone has more information on how the Cat got out of the bag, let us know.