The groups, including the Humane Society, allege the fund's trustees are mismanaging the money, The New York Post reported Monday.
Helmsley, who owned New York hotels and apartment buildings, died in 2007, leaving the bulk of her $8 billion fortune to a charitable trust to be administered for the care for dogs.
The trust began making grants this year, but so far just $1 million of the first $136 million in grants has gone to canine-related causes, said the animal rights groups, which filed suit against the trustees in August in Surrogate's Court in New York.
The trustees didn't "even pretend to act to benefit the more discrete special interest identified by Mrs. Helmsley," the groups said in an update to their filing.
The trustees have countered that Helmsley's mission statement gives them "sole discretion" on the distribution of her money.
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