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A Dog Named Winnie Pooh Wants Court to Fetch His $100K Trust Fund

 Winnie Pooh, a 6-year-old dachshund, was left $100,000 when her owner died in 2010. But six years later, the pooch and her caretaker have had little access to the money.
Winnie Pooh, a 6-year-old dachshund, was left $100,000 when her owner died in 2010. But six years later, the pooch and her caretaker have had little access to the money.
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Couresy of Virginia Hanlon

UNION SQUARE — Every dog has its day — in court.

An adorable dachshund named Winnie Pooh was left $100,000 when her owner died in 2010. But six years after the owner's death, the dog has received diddly.

That's why Winnie Pooh's caretaker filed court papers this week in Manhattan Surrogate's Court, saying she has a bone to pick with the executor of the estate of the dog's dead owner.

The caretaker, Virginia Hanlon, said she has repeatedly requested money from the executor, Harriet Harkavy, who was supposed to use the $100,000 to set up a trust for Winnie Pooh that would keep the pooch pampered until she goes to doggy heaven.

But Hanlon, who lives near Union Square, claims she has so far received a pittance from Harkavy — less than $10 a year. Hanlon said as a result she has spent thousands of dollars of her own money on Winnie Pooh's care.

"It’s insane. They’re waiting until the dog dies to give out the money," Hanlon said Wednesday about the rough treatment of Winnie Pooh, who is 6½ years old and has a life expectancy of 15 years.

"I didn’t know what else to do except to put it in the court’s hands," Hanlon added.

Her court filing asks a judge to force Harkavy to show the trust's financial records and to pay her the money that's owed to her for the care of Winnie Pooh.

Winnie Pooh's owner, Patricia Bowers, died in 2010, leaving instructions in her will that Hanlon — her neighbor and friend of 15 years — should take care of the dog with a $100,000 trust making quarterly payments to cover the costs. The will states that whatever money is left in the trust after Winnie Pooh dies should go to the Animal Medical Center in Sutton Place.

Bowers, an economist and academic who wasn't married and had no children, left Winnie Pooh to Hanlon because Hanlon routinely cared for her pets when she traveled.

The court filings show that Hanlon estimates that to care for Winnie Pooh the way Bowers would want would require about $5,000 a year for the dog's expenses and $1,000 annually for her services.

But Hanlon said her requests have gone unanswered. Harkavy even ignored Hanlon's requests for Winnie Pooh's medical records and a health insurance policy when she first took over care of her dog, according to the court filing.

Harkavy has also kept a muzzle on the trust's finances, including the interest earned on the account, according to Hanlon's filing.

Instead, Harkavy has occasionally sent payments of $2.36 a quarter, Hanlon said. 

When Winnie Pooh had to have surgery last fall, Hanlon had to pay the $6,000 bill. Hanlon said she requested reimbursement from the trust. But the check Harkavy sent initially bounced due to insufficient funds, according to the court filing. The check later cleared when Hanlon re-deposited it.

Harkavy proposed in 2013 that the trust be invaded and the money divvied up between Winnie Pooh and the Animal Medical Center. But Harkavy wanted the split to be $70,000 for the medical center and $30,000 for Winnie Pooh, according to court filings.

Hanlon, who has two other dogs aside from Winnie Pooh, refused the deal because it wouldn't cover Winnie Pooh's estimated costs. Hanlon said she thinks Harkavy was trying to win praise from her social circle for securing a large sum of money for the medical center.

"What a coup that would have been for Ms. Harkavy," Hanlon wrote in an affidavit that's part of her filing. "She would have been feted and lauded amongst her Sutton Place friends for advancing the payment for the sake of the charity."

Harkavy said she has acted legally and appropriately in her duties as trustee.

"I have no idea what's she's after," she said, referring to Hanlon.

Harkavy declined to comment further on the court case.

However, the court filings include emails Harkavy sent to Hanlon and her lawyer stating that she had repeatedly tried to get in touch with Hanlon about the trust and the dog's well-being.

Harkavy also says in an email that Hanlon didn't cash some of the checks she sent from the trust.