In April 2011 a dog named Desmond, a beautiful boxer/pit bull mix, was adopted from a shelter in New Haven, CT (see Desmond’s Story).
In March 2012, less than 1 year later, Desmond’s body was found having been brutally murdered by his adopter, Alex Wullaert. Wullaert was arrested and confessed to the killing in May 2012. Public outrage ensued. Animal advocates came in droves to gather at the courthouse at each of Wullaert’s appearances. This group, led by a former volunteer shelter worker, Micah, who had been Desmond’s caretaker, formed what was then known as “Justice For Desmond”. They were referred to as an “army”.
The army was infuriated and felt defeated when Wullaert was allowed Accelerated Rehabilitation (AR) as his only punishment for taking Desmond’s life. AR is a diversionary program intended for non-serious offenders. The conviction is expunged from the offender’s record (as if it never happened) when the offender completes the program. Discouraged and disheartened, the army disbanded. State Representative Diana Urban was amongst those outraged by the court’s decision. She immediately began her battle to write legislation that would make sure that this travesty of justice would never happen again. Urban contacted and worked closely with key people in the “Justice For Desmond” group.
April 2015 brought another horrendous animal abuse case. Quamaine Cherry from New Britain, CT had beaten his pit bull so badly that the dog needed extensive surgery costing thousands of dollars to repair his injuries. Then again, near the end of 2015, Veronica Reyes from Bristol, CT hanged her two dogs to death in her backyard. Enough was enough.
Three people from the “Justice for Desmond” group were compelled to do more. Together Robin Cannamela, Christine Keirnan and Cheryl Valukevich formed a FaceBook page to bring together advocates who felt the same. From that simple page “Justice For Desmond” was now re-born under the new name of “Desmond’s Army”. Through the social media site, once again, an army was gathered. The three women with the support of the army and along with Representative Urban pushed to have “Desmond’s Law” – Public Act 16-30 enacted into law on October 1, 2016.
Desmond’s Army proudly wears their signature purple shirts in honor of Desmond.
Micah had given Desmond a purple “leash of love” when he left the shelter – the last act of love Desmond knew.
Desmond’s Army has grown exponentially in number and strength and “Desmond’s Law” has set a standard for animal cruelty laws throughout the country.