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

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

Berwyn, Ill., neighbors of the deceased, Georgia Lee Dvorak, said she was concerned her surviving animals might be mistreated by a future owner. She had left a $1.3 million estate mostly to animal causes.

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But Dvorak's trust officers at Fifth Third Bank were squeamish about the euthanasia 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 a permanent home was found.

On Wednesday, Missouri resident Diane Maxwell arrived at Cats are Purrsons Too to pick up Boots to take her home. Maxwell is a cousin to Jeff Schmidt, Fifth Third's senior vice president and personal trust director. Maxwell heard about Boots' plight, and Schmidt encouraged her to contact Marijon Binder, Cats are Purrsons Too founder.

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

Binder said she thought 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 Maxwell by association - family for how they saved Boots from lethal injection. Schmidt and Maxwell will keep the rescue abreast of how Boots is doing.

Maxwell's cat died 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, Binder said.

"We'll all sleep together," Maxwell said.

As Boots was leaving, 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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