Saved by bank, Boots the cat gets new family

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CHICAGO -- Boots, the Chicago-area cat saved from death row by Fifth Third Bank and a Cook County probate judge, has found a new home -- in Missouri -- on Independence Day.

The 1988 will of her late owner, who died in December, had stipulated that any pets that survived her be euthanized in a "painless, peaceful manner" by a veterinarian's lethal injection.

Berwyn, Ill., neighbors of the deceased, Georgia Lee Dvorak, said that she was concerned that her surviving animals, in this case Boots, might be mistreated by a future owner.

The owner had left a $1.3 million estate, left mostly to animal causes.

But Dvorak's trust officers at Fifth Third Bank were squeamish about that provision, and asked Cook County Probate Judge Susan Coleman in April to set it aside.

The judge allowed the bank to make more humane provisions for Boots. Cats are Purrsons Too, a haven for cats on Chicago's North Side, agreed to care for Boots until it found her a permanent home.

On Wednesday, Missouri resident Diane Maxwell arrived at Cats are Purrsons Too to pick up Boots to take her home. Ms. Maxwell is a cousin to Fifth Third senior vice president and personal trust director Jeff Schmidt.

Ms. Maxwell heard about Boots' plight, and Mr. Schmidt encouraged her to contact Sister Marijon Binder, Cats are Purrsons Too founder.

Sister Binder said Ms. Maxwell was one of 27 people who applied to adopt Boots. "She gave us a thorough interview," Ms. Maxwell said of Sister Binder.

"I was just the messenger boy," Mr. Schmidt said of referring his cousin.

Sister Binder said she thought that Ms. Maxwell would give Boots a great home. It also didn't hurt that the Cats are Purrsons Too team almost considers Fifth Third trust executives -- and hence Ms. Maxwell -- family for how they saved Boots from lethal injection. The rescue feels that it will be kept abreast of how Boots is doing through Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Maxwell.

Ms. Maxwell's cat died on Feb. 14. She said her 10-year-old dog is grieving and has gained 5 pounds since then. Boots doesn't seem to mind dogs, Sister Binder said.

"We'll all sleep together," Ms. Maxwell said when picking up Boots.

Cats are Purrsons Too sent off Ms. Maxwell and Boots with a carrier, cat food and a litter box, as well as a quilt hand made for Boots by Peeper Day Designs in Bloomingdale, Ill.

As Boots was leaving, Sister Binder got a call that a stray hit by a car and recuperating from surgery at an emergency animal clinic now needed a home. It also has been contacted about taking in cats made homeless by Colorado fires.



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