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“When you’re out walking your dog, you tend to gravitate to other dog people,” said Anthony T. Wladyka III, a second-year litigation associate at Proskauer Rose. “You say hello, you start talking.” In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Wladyka and his 2-year-old golden retriever Virgil one day sniffed out a like-minded twosome who happened to be 9/11 heroes: Scott Shields and his dog Bear, likewise a golden retriever and the subject of worldwide press fanfare for his derring-do and his death soon afterward. The happy result of doggy comradeship between a young lawyer and Shields, director of marine safety for the New York City Urban Parks Service, is the newly established Bear Search and Rescue Foundation. The project is Wladyka’s first venture into pro bono. “He told me about his 9/11 experiences, and all the problems that search and rescue teams face,” Wladyka said of Shields. “The way the bureaucracy is structured seemed very negative to me. “As we talked, we began focusing more and more on what could be done to make things better, especially for the canine teams.” Since Wladyka had trained his own Virgil as a “therapy dog,” working in hospitals and nursing homes to lift patients’ spirits, he empathized with Shields and Bear, as well as lesser known canine rescue teams, who typically receive little or no government funding. PRO BONO COMMITTEE With the quick blessings of partners on Proskauer’s pro bono committee, Wladyka and fellow associate Stacey O’Haire Fahey spent two months putting together the Bear Search and Rescue Foundation. The foundation provides equipment and air transport for canine teams around the country, and health care to dogs who worked at Ground Zero in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Because the 11-year-old Bear died shortly after 9/11 duty, in large measure due to the cancer that plagued him after many 18-hour days digging through toxic rubble in search of human remains, the health care issue was especially important to Shields, who racked up some $3,000 worth of veterinary bills. “Stacey did most of the actual legal work,” said Wladyka, a graduate of New York University School of Law. “I mostly consulted with Scott, and translated his concerns into legalspeak.” “The firm was eager to help, and I was happy to volunteer,” said Fahey, 43, a senior ssociate in Proskauer’s health care department and a graduate of Fordham University School of Law. “It’s a great organization.” It is also a grateful organization. On Sept. 6, the Bear Search and Rescue Foundation will present “Extraordinary Service to Humanity” awards to dogs and human beings in a ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at the foot of West 46th Street in Manhattan (starting at 10 a.m. and free to the public). Proskauer Rose will be among the honorees. Wladyka and Virgil will be on hand, as will Fahey and her 11-year-old daughter. Since becoming involved in canine rescue matters, Fahey said, “My daughter has been hounding me to get a dog, and she’s very good at pleading her case.”

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