Desmond’s Army Animal Law Advocates is a group of volunteer citizens who work together to better the lives of animals. We are committed to impacting animal welfare legislation. We do this by being a voice for the voiceless in the courts and at the Capitol. We seek to raise public awareness regarding the statistical connection between animal abuse and domestic and social violence.
‘Report Animal Abuse. Stop Domestic Abuse’ – Desmond’s Army launches first billboard campaign on Labor Day 2022.
In addition to tracking animal cruelty cases, notifying approved advocates of cases, attending courts throughout Connecticut, and educating the public on the connection between animal cruelty, domestic and social violence or other predatory acts, we also:
Provide municipalities funding for necropsies or DNA results that will aid in the prosecution of animal cruelty cases
Help pay medical expenses for victims of animal cruelty when there is an open investigation.
Provide reward funds for information leading to the positive identification of a person(s) responsible for abandonment/cruelty to an animal(s).
We will continue to be "A Voice for the Voiceless."
Desmond’s Army Animal Law Advocates (DA) believe that one’s treatment of animals is closely associated with the treatment of fellow humans. DA seeks a better world by celebrating animals and confronting animal cruelty.
We support the presence of volunteer citizens at animal cruelty court cases as a “Voice for the Voiceless.” We educate the public about the well-documented link between animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse. DA encourages and supports the inclusion of pets in judicial protection orders and supports frequent training and exchanges among criminal justice agencies to cross-train on animal cruelty.
DA also disseminates information to criminal justice, advocacy groups, and animal control officers about animal abuse and awareness that animals are sentient beings who feel pain. Violence against animals has proven to be a reliable predictor that the abuser may become violent to people.
Desmond’s Army Animal Law Advocates also educates children that it is noble and worthy to report animal abuse and be a hero for any helpless animal.
The Story of Desmond and His Army
Desmond was a Boxer/Pitbull mix initially adopted from the New Haven Shelter in 2011 by “Sandy” (name changed) and her boyfriend, Alex Wullaert. During “Sandy” and Alex’s relationship, Wullaert became physically and emotionally abusive. “Sandy” became pregnant with Wullaert’s child, fearing for her unborn baby’s safety, so she left Alex.
She did not want to leave Desmond behind. However, she could not take him with her. Sandy returned Desmond to the shelter she adopted him from. Desmond was not doing well in the New Haven shelter, so he was moved to a smaller quiet shelter where he would not be so stressed.
In retaliation for “Sandy” leaving, Alex started seeking Desmond out, visiting various area shelters. Alex found Desmond, and unfortunately, none of the workers had known about his abusive behavior. In true dog fashion, Desmond was happy to see one of his people, and Wullaert declared that it was his dog.
In March of 2012, Desmond’s emaciated body was found in a garbage bag on the edge of a pond in Branford, CT. A necropsy revealed bruises all over his body, broken teeth, and hemorrhages on his stomach, ribs, and head. His stomach was void of anything except some plastic fragments and fabric. Desmond’s microchip led police back to Wullaert. Alex admitted to murdering Desmond by torturing, punching, and choking him to death. Read the full public report here >
Alex Wullaert was arrested in May of 2012.
So many people were seeking Justice for Desmond that the media referred to them as an army.
Justice for Desmond
Micah, Desmond's shelter caretaker, organized and formed what was then known as "Justice For Desmond." So many people were seeking Justice for Desmond that the media referred to them as an army.
On April 11, 2013, Wullaert was sentenced to Accelerated Rehabilitation (AR). This is nothing more than a slap on the wrist with no jail time. After two years, Wullaert's record would be expunged, wiped clean with no record of abuse.
The "Army" was infuriated, discouraged, and defeated. They mostly disbanded, except for a few members. Those members put a call to State Representative Diana Urban. Diana was a known champion of animals and children. She was outraged over the sentence and vowed to get justice for Desmond. Diana immediately got to work on what would eventually be known as "Desmond's Law," which would take three long years to pass.
The Forming of Desmond's Army
In April 2015, another horrendous animal cruelty case came out of New Britain, CT. Quamaine Cherry had severely beaten his girlfriend’s pitbull puppy, so she needed surgery to remove bone fragments from a broken femur. She also had facial fractures and required extensive therapy and rehabilitation. Later in 2015, Veronica Reyes hanged her two dogs to death from a tree branch outside her home in Bristol, CT.
Robin ”Zilla” Cannamela contacted Micah for her blessing to regroup as Desmond’s Army. After receiving Micah’s blessing, she reached out to Christine Kiernan and Cheryl Valukevich to get them on board. With the ongoing cruelty cases and Desmond’s Law on the horizon, they all agreed that an Army was necessary.
A Desmond’s Army Facebook group page was formed to bring together advocates seeking justice in Connecticut animal cruelty cases. Through the social media site, the army grew exponentially.
Together the three women designed the signature purple shirts recognized throughout courts today. Purple was the color of the “leash of love” Micah gave Desmond when he left the shelter.
With State Representative Diana Urban at the helm and Desmond’s Army’s support as well as an outpouring of public support, Desmond’s Law passed in May of 2016. It was enacted on October 1, 2016.
Desmond’s Army has since been recognized nationally and internationally in advocacy circles and honored with several awards, including the prestigious International Society For Animal Rights SEEDS Award.
Desmond’s Army continues its work on educating the public and courts on the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence, social violence, and mass shootings.
Desmond’s Law has set a standard for animal cruelty laws throughout the country.
Desmond’s Army is committed to seeing laws modeling Desmond’s Law spread across the nation.
Board of Directors
In 2018, Desmond’s Army Animal Law Advocates achieved 501(c)(3) status as an organization to fulfill our mission goals. We have achieved award-winning status with our established code of conduct and the support of over 30 dedicated, tireless, hard-working volunteers.