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Cats and Dogs left millions

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
This was in the news in my hometown in New Zealand. Bless this woman!

Cats and dogs left millions
24 February 2003

An eccentric Christchurch woman who died in a house fire left a multimillion-dollar fortune to cats and dogs.

At least $3 million is believed to have gone to an animal welfare trust set up by Aileen Milligan, 78.

The money came from estate sales of two sea-view properties on Scarborough Hill, and other investments.

Mrs Milligan and her late husband, scientist Robert Hartley Milligan, did not have any children.

Those closest to Mrs Milligan say it was her lifelong ambition to provide comfort for stray dogs and cats.

"She loved animals so much," friend and former neighbour Georgina Hooker said.

"I wouldn't do it myself, but I think it (the trust) is a wonderful thing."

Animal welfare groups, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Save Animals From Exploitation (Safe), have been invited to apply for funding.

Safe director Anthony Terry said such a large bequest to animals was rare, but not unprecedented.

Details of the trust are shrouded in secrecy. It seems Mrs Milligan wanted it that way.

"She was a very private woman ... she kept herself to herself," her lawyer, Phil Shamy, said.

Her obsession for privacy saw a chain slung across the driveway and an answerphone used to screen callers. Knocks on the door were treated with suspicion.

"She had padlocks all round the house and I'd have to bang very hard on the glass door with a stone to get her to come," Mrs Hooker said.

"She didn't want her photo ever taken. She used to have them all thrown away."

For someone who chose to withdraw from people, Mrs Milligan was nonetheless fastidious about her appearance.

"She always looked elegant and pristine," former neighbour Renata Brauer said.

"She'd be in the garden and have make-up on like a film star."

And like Zsa Zsa Gabor, it was a poodle that Mrs Milligan lavished with love.

His name was Flynn and he enjoyed five-star treatment.

"She would cook roast pork, give the dog the crackling and throw the rest over the cliff," said a neighbour, who asked not to be named.

Mrs Milligan was a vegetarian. "She wouldn't eat meat because that meant slaughtering an animal," friend Oliver Brauer said.

Flynn also feasted on fish and chips. He would trot alongside Mrs Milligan to Sumner for the treat.

And when the poodle became incontinent in old age, Mrs Milligan fitted him in home-made nappies.

Losing the dog was said to have broken her heart.

Renata Brauer: "She said she wasn't having any more (pets). She couldn't stand the pain."

However stray cats sneaking through the hedge would always be rewarded with a bowl of food or milk.

Mrs Milligan decreed that no funeral notice be published when she died. She did not want anyone there.

Stuart Walker, who had helped with the gardening in recent years, was one of the few to turn up.

"I found her an exceptional lady. She lived a life dedicated to helping animals. She would save rugs to give to animal shelters so they didn't have to sleep on concrete."

Mrs Milligan died when her two-storey home near Taylors Mistake went up in flames on September 7, 2001.

A frail 40kg, Mrs Milligan felt the cold and would hunch over electric heaters. She also suffered from a form of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

She would often wake to find her clothes on fire, according to evidence presented at her inquest earlier this month.

Christchurch Coroner Richard McElrea ruled the death accidental.
post #2 of 7
What a generous thing to do! I guess if you have no person who can benefit from the money, help those who cannot help themselves.

Great story, Kellye. Thanks for sharing!
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
if i was ever a millionaire, you can guess where a lot of my money would go when i die. those animals need it. but then again if i was a millionaire, i would be actively donating the money while alive too!
post #4 of 7
Lucky animals! And she seems to have worked hard to set it up so that the money went where it would be used responsibly.

I know that if I were a millionaire, I would spend loads of money on cat rescues and shelters, as well as setting up scholarships for vet students.
post #5 of 7
What a great lady!
I always thought if I won the lottery, I would like to set up a foundation to enable elderly people to keep their pets with them. I have seen so many that could no longer afford to keep them, and had to let them go. It was heartbreaking.
post #6 of 7
wow, that is just amazing. i like the sound of her, definitely a unique individual.

she should have also left $$ for children's charities.
post #7 of 7
What a wonderful thing for that woman to do! I agree too that Children's charities would be a great place to leave alot of money too!
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