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Schnader Attorneys Recognized as “Unsung Heroes of Pro Bono”

On May 25, 2010 by Schnader in Litigation

Schnader’s Jon C. Hughes and Jennifer A. Callery were recognized in The Legal Intelligencer’s “Unsung Heroes of Pro Bono” feature published on May 25, 2010 for their work to reunite a victim of Hurricane Katrina with his beloved dog who was lost during the storm.

Jon and Jennifer successfully represented Malvin Cavalier Sr., an 86-year-old retired sheet metal mechanic forced to leave his 12-year-old poodle Bandit behind when he was evacuated to the New Orleans Superdome, where pets were not welcome. He left Bandit on his covered porch with a bag of food and a bucket of water, assuming that he would be home in a day or two. He was at the Superdome for six days and subsequently was evacuated to Houston, Texas, unable to return home for several months.

In the meantime, Bandit was found by an animal rescue group and was eventually transported to a shelter outside of Pittsburgh, where he was fostered and eventually adopted by a local family. When Cavalier returned home, he learned what happened to Bandit, but the rescue group that placed him refused to provide any additional information or make any attempt to reunite owner and dog.

Hughes and Callery took on the case pro bono. Their initial requests to return Bandit were rebuffed, but after a year’s worth of work, he was voluntarily returned after a suit was filed against both the adoption agency and the adoptive owner.  Cavalier and Bandit have since been happily reunited. Their story was one of several documented in “Mine: The Movie,” which was shown across the country at a variety of independent movie festivals (the movie was a 2009 Audience Award Winner at South by Southwest); and as part of the PBS television series “Independent Lens.”

In recognizing Jon, Jennifer, and the many other “Unsung Heroes of Pro Bono,” the Legal noted that many lawyers dedicate themselves to helping their communities through pro bono service, but too often, these outstanding attorneys do not get the thanks and recognition they deserve.  The feature was an effort to give them a chance to be honored for their efforts.

This isn’t the only example of Schnader attorneys offering their services pro bono or volunteering to help needy animals and their human care givers.  Stephen Dye also represented a Katrina victim who lost his pet in the aftermath of the storm, successfully reuniting him with his beloved pet in June 2009 after two years of hard work and legal struggle (Steve’s story was also featured in “Mine: The Movie”).  A partner in our Pittsburgh office, Robert Williams, is a volunteer pilot for Pilots N Paws, an organization that finds no-kill shelters to accept animals who are about to be euthanized at shelters that do not have no-kill policies and then transports the animals to safety.  And, Albert Momjian is a past chairman of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee and continues to work for the benefit of needy and mistreated animals, hosting a meeting in November 2009 of assistant district attorneys from the Philadelphia region assigned to prosecuting animal welfare cases.  The group is seeking to draft and advocate for the passage of statewide legislation to prevent animal cruelty.