Desmond was 6 years old when he was killed. Before he was strangled to death by his owner, the dog had been beaten and starved. His owner, Alex Wullaert, admitted to the violence after he was arrested in Connecticut. However, he got accelerated rehabilitation and no jail time. His record has been expunged and it will be as if he never committed the crime.
That did not sit well with animal advocates or those that knew Desmond from his days as a shelter dog. As result, a bill was introduced in the state House of Connecticut in April called "Desmond's Law". It calls for a legal court advocate to represent the rights of abused animals during court cases, according to Fox News. "That advocate would help the judge with reviewed records, as well as keeping track of the defendant’s actions by speaking with veterinarians, animal control officers and police. The advocate would also provide recommendations to the court based on the animal’s interests," the news station reported.
Connecticut has a terrible track record in convicting in animal cruelty cases. According to State Rep. Diana Urban, between 2002 and 2012 only 18 percent of cases resulted in a conviction.
The case of Alex Wullaert was particularly troubling.
A Facebook page called Justice For Desmond described what happened to the dog on their Facebook page as follows:
"Desmond was surrendered by his owner to The New Haven Animal Shelter where he quickly became a volunteer favourite. He loved to climb onto chairs, or into your lap, or next to you. His tail was always wagging. Desmond had Shelter Mammas spending time with him every day. We called him Sweet Baby Desmond. Dez had a hard time adjusting to the stress of shelter life. Who wouldn't? He was four years old and given up by his family. Desmond was transferred to a smaller, quieter shelter. He was adopted within a week by Alex, who was half of the original owners. There was no way of knowing he was the significant other of the woman who surrendered him.
"Baby Desmond lived with him for almost a year before being hanged to death after allegedly urinating on Alex's leg. Desmond had no food in his belly, only pieces of plastic, gauze, and paper.
"Alex admitted to not having money for dog food, but said he gave our Sweet Baby Desmond leftovers sometimes. An autopsy showed he was covered in bruises, had several broken teeth and several broken ribs. Alex admitted to "spanking" him hard to deter him from barking, and locking him in the bathroom for 12+ hours a day. Alex Wullaert already has an extensive history of violence.
"Baby Desmond was four years old when he was surrendered by his family to the shelter. He was six years old when he was killed. Desmond has been let down by humans his entire life, but he always had so much love for people. His Shelter Mammas loved him very much. Many people loved Baby Desmond.
"There is no excuse for animal abuse. We have to be the voice for Sweet Baby Desmond."
You can read Wullaert's arrest warrant in full here.
It should be noted that during his trial Wullaert was also accused of strangling his girlfriend, but those charges were dropped.
By having law school students or pro bono attorneys representing the animals in court, it is hoped that animal abusers will receive stronger sentences in the state.
Gov. Dan Malloy signed the bill on May 31. It will take effect October 1, 2016.
"This is an incredible victory for animals and it recognizes that animal abuse is part of a cycle of violence. It sets up a process for the courts to take animal cruelty seriously," Rep. Urban said in a statement. "It addresses cruelty to cats and dogs and the link to child abuse and domestic violence."
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