Gift of the Week Aid to AnimalsBy SALLY BEATTY August 10, 2007; Page W2 Who gave it: Leslie Alexander, billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets basketball team How much: $2.5 million Who got it: The Humane Society of the United States By request: The funds will boost the group's legal and other capabilities to fight animal cruelty. How it happened: Mr. Alexander gained an interest in animal rights through his ex-wife, Nanci, an ardent animal-rights advocate. While they were married, the couple had five cats and three dogs. Now he has only one dog, a golden lab named Joy he picked out at an animal shelter in Southampton, N.Y., where he spends summers. Mr. Alexander says he would like to have more than one pet, but Joy, who has bite marks on her face, was apparently abused by a previous owner and doesn't play well with other animals. Mr. Alexander, 64, grew up in a middle-class home, the son of an insurance broker, and attended high school in West Orange, N.J. He made the bulk of his fortune in the 1980s by trading speculative bonds for his own account. He says he wasn't exposed to charity growing up and learned about philanthropy after building his wealth. Among other gifts, Mr. Alexander has given money to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Children's Assessment Center of Houston, which provides treatment child-abuse victims. "If you are lucky enough to be successful and make money, you should do something" to help others, he says. "I think it's an obligation."