In January of 2011, a boxer/pit bull mix arrived at the New Haven shelter. His owner (who will remain unnamed to protect her identity) had a baby and was concerned that the dog was jealous and not getting the attention he needed, and after 4 years of love she had to say goodbye. His owner is the former girlfriend of Alex Wullaert. They had split up after he tried to strangle her, and she took a restraining order against him. This dog was Desmond. A sweet, smart, loving boy, who shelter staff instantly fell in love with. A docile, caring, innocent angel who was extremely stressed out by the noisy shelter environment. In April of 2011, Desmond was moved to a smaller, quieter shelter, where he would be less stressed out and have better luck at finding a new forever home.
In the short time that Desmond was at the New Haven Shelter, his former owners endured some serious mental hardships. Over the next several months, Wullaert and his former girlfriend battled in court over their finances and custody of their child.
During this period, and unbeknownst to his former girlfriend, Wullaert had started seeking out Desmond. In April, 2011, Wullaert found Desmond at the municipal shelter and adopted him. The shelter workers were not aware of his legal battles or violence towards his former girlfriend, and Desmond seemed comfortable and happy when he saw Wullaert.
Fast forward to March 11, 2012. Desmond’s body is found in a trash bag in the woods. He is emaciated. He is bruised. He is dead. On March 15, 2012, a necropsy reveals that Desmond’s stomach was empty except for fragments of plastic, gauze and fabric. He had broken teeth and hemorrhages on his stomach, ribs, and head. As many dogs do, Desmond had a microchip implanted in his skin for identification (in case he got lost). The microchip led police to Alex Wullaert through his ex and the shelter, and he was arrested for cruelty to animals and littering.
What Wullaert admitted in his arrest warrant is shocking. Please be warned, this may be hard to read. The full report is a matter of public record and can be seen here.
Here are a few of Wullaert’s statements regarding the care he provided Desmond:
1. Desmond was fed one cup of rice per day.
2. Desmond spent his days (12 hours or longer on many occasions) locked in a bathroom.
3. When Wullaert arrived home, he routinely spanked Desmond ‘quite hard’, kicked him, and/or hit him with a shoe to keep him from barking.
4. On the morning of January 12, 2012 at about 8:00 am, Wullaert arrived home from work and attempted to take Desmond out of the bathroom to go outside. When he attempted to put a collar on Desmond, he alleges that Desmond bit him. Wullaert then walked Desmond for about 30 minutes, trying to get him to use the bathroom, but Desmond did not go. When they returned to the apartment, Wullaert alleges that Desmond urinated on him. Wullaert confesses to then going into an uncontrollable rage. He grabbed Desmond by the collar, lifting him off the ground, and twisted the collar until Desmond stopped breathing. Wullaert explained to police that he covered Desmond’s head with a plastic Wal-Mart bag because Desmond’s eyes wouldn’t close (a dog requires muscle control to close his eyes, the eyes do not close when they are dead). He then put Desmond in a black trash bag, took him to a lake in Madison, CT, broke a hole in the ice and threw Desmond in. Wullaert claims he then purchased flowers and put them in the lake with Desmond as an ‘apology’.
This is where we come in. We are a group called Justice for Desmond. Formed by Desmond’s shelter family, the people who loved him most, we are fighting on behalf of Desmond and dogs like him who have suffered at the hands of human cruelty. We were at Wullaert’s arraignment on May 15, 2012. We were at his subsequent court date on June 5th, when Wullaert applied for Accelerated Rehabilitation then snuck out of the courthouse in a vehicle so he wouldn’t have to face cameras and protesters. We were ready to go for his June 26th court date, which his lawyer (Silverstein of New Haven) decided needed to be postponed last minute. We are sure that the postponement of the June 26th hearing was meant to dissuade us, but ultimately we have had more time to strengthen our numbers. We stand peacefully with signs and information, we walk quietly alongside Wullaert, and we will not give up. We believe Alex Wullaert maliciously mistreated and murdered his dog, and we believe he is a danger to society.
Some have questioned why all the fuss for “just a dog”. Some have told us that pit bulls are vicious, and that they should be killed. Some have even called us ‘extremists’. Call us what you will, we know that we are a voice for the voiceless. We know that someone who killed an innocent animal in cold blood, who tried to strangle his girlfriend, who has posted photos online of baby dolls with knives in their heads, is a dangerous person. Whether or not you are an animal lover, whether or not you believe in our cause, look at the facts. Wullaert is unemotional aside from his rage. He displays characteristics and tendencies displayed by men who have later become serial killers. We believe that if he is continuously allowed off the hook with a slap on the wrist, his crimes will continue and worsen in severity. Wullaert and people like him do not belong on the streets.