Richard P. Silverstein, the New Haven attorney representing Alex Wullaert of Branford who is accused of animal cruelty in connection with the of killing his own dog, said Wullaert's case has been continued until June 5.
Silverstein declined to comment on the case following Wullaert's arraignment Tuesday morning in New Haven Superior Court.
Wullaert, before his arraignment, said he wanted to clarify one element of the accusations against him. He noted that press reports "said the dog peed on me."
"All I want to say about the press coverage is that he bit me. He latched on to me. I have a little girl. She felt threatened." He declined further comment.
Dog suffered broken teeth, beatings, wasn't fed properly
The affidavit supporting the arrest warrant filed in court says Wullaert's dog, Desmond, a pit bull/boxer mix, had suffered broken teeth, and profuse bleeding beneath his skin and bruising in his head and all over his body. When he was found his stomach contained little food. But pieces of gauze, paper, fabric, and plastic tissue were found in his stomach, suggesting Desmond was trying to eat anything because he wasn't fed.
The affidavit also says Wullaert admitted to killing the dog by lifting the dog off the ground and twisting the collar around his neck until the dog died. He then covered Desmond's head with a Walmart bag because his eyes would not close, put him in a black plastic bag and drove him to a lake in Madison, according to the affidavit.
He then says he broke a hole in the ice and stuffed the dog's body through the hole into the water, the affidavit says.
Flowers, great memories, an apology
He then went to a local store, bought some flowers, drove back to the lake and threw the flowers in the water.
"Wullaert stated the flowers were to symbolize 'the great memories they had' and considered them to be an apology to the dog," the affidavit says.
The affidavit also says Desmond had been turned into the shelter by Wullaert's girlfriend, the mother of his daughter, because the dog exhibited jealousy towards the little girl. The girlfriend had owned the dog for six years.
A cup of rice a day
After Wullaert and his girlfriend broke up, following a domestic dispute that the girlfriend said included Wullaert trying to strangle her, Wullaert retrieved the dog from the shelter. He said in the affidavit that he had fallen upon hard times and was feeding the dog only a cup of rice a day and that he often beat Desmond--hitting him, kicking him, or spanking him with a shoe--after leaving the dog alone for 12 hours or longer while he worked.
Protesters, including animal lovers and animal rights activists, held a protest rally before the arraignment. They then sat through the court proceeding, and then accompanied Wullaert for several blocks in New Haven from the courthouse back to his attorney's office. Wullaert then emerged from his attorney's office alone and, accompanied by almost twenty protesters holding placards, he walked several more blocks to where he parked his car.
A passenger in a truck passing by the protesters and Wullaert, as he walked to his parking garage, asked what was going on. When the protesters told him Wullaert was accused of killing his own dog, the passenger screamed insults at Wullaert, then sped off.
Baby on board
After Wullaert reached his parking garage, the protesters waited outside the exit of the garage, placing themselves on both sides of the exit. Wullaert's car sped out.
On the back of Wullaert's car was a sign that said "Baby On Board."
Some of the protesters exclaimed, "Baby on board? His car says baby on board!"
After Wullaert pulled out of the garage and in to traffic the protesters headed back to the courthouse, where they made plans to meet again June 5.
It's just awful
Protesters came from as nearby as East Haven and as far away as New York state to attend. Some took the day off from work to attend. One said she had attended high school with Wullaert.
Jean Valentino attended the court proceedings with her mother, Elizabeth Valentino. Jean Valentino, who owns a pit boxer named Willie, said she came from North Haven and took the day off of work to attend.
"I just couldn't get that image out of my head," she said of the dog. "It's just awful."
Animal abuse not taken seriously enough
Julie Clement of East Haven said she came became she thinks animal abuse is not taken seriously enough. "It needs to be dealt with and dealt with appropriately. Maybe if enough of us come here today, something will be done. It will be a step in the right direction."
Clement paused for a moment, then said this is a case that is "near and dear to my heart." She pointed to her forearm, which bears heavy scars.
"I was brutally attacked by my dog," she said. She said the attack by her dog, a Presa Canario named Zeus, almost killed her. "With a heavy heart, I had him euthanized." She had it done humanely at a veterinarian's office, she said.
Still, she says she cannot imagine what would drive someone to do what Wullaert is accused of doing to his dog. "If you don't want the dog, take him back to the shelter ... my understanding is that his defense is that the dog bit him. That is not a defense for what he did."
Original story posted at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 15, 2012:
The last time Micah Rapini saw Desmond, a shelter dog, she said he was sweet, polite, cuddly, and a bit sad after having been given up by his family after a new baby was born. Rapini, a volunteer with the New Haven Animal Shelter, was hoping he was headed off to a happier future with a new owner. And so she was devastated when she learned recently that Desmond had been brutally murdered and dumped in a wooded section of Madison.
Due to the initiative and hard work of Madison Police Officer Kimberly Lauria, Desmond's owner, Alex Wullaert, 24, of 57 East Main Street, Branford, has been charged with animal cruelty in connection with the killing of the dog.
Rapini said she wants to thank Officer Lauria. Micah on Monday went to the Madison Police Department to drop off "happy pictures" of Desmond. Tuesday morning, Rapini showed up to the court house at the corner of Elm Street and Church Street in New Haven with a box of placards calling for Justice For Desmond. She was soon joined by about two dozen protesters, some from as far away as New York state, and several of whom took the day off from work to attend.
Melissa Izzo, another one of Desmond's shelter moms, dropped off to the court Monday 1,300 signatures from an online petition for Justice for Desmond. Izzo also pictures of Desmond in happier times "when he was loved at the shelter," she says. She also dropped off pictures of a mutilated baby doll she says Wullaert had posted on MySpace. The materials she dropped off brought court employees to tears, some of whom came outside early Tuesday to thank the shelter mommas.
As of Tuesday morning, a Facebook page, Justice For Desmond, had 1,857 fans and the petition was up to 1,530 signatures. As of 11:20 a.m., the Facebook page fans were up to 2,017.
As of 8:15 a.m. about a dozen protesters had gathered and they said they plan to be here for at least several hours.
This information was provided by the Branford Police Department:
Branford Police officers along with a State Animal Control Officer arrested Alex Wullaert, 24, of 57 East Main Street, Branford on charges of animal cruelty in connection with the killing of his pit-bull, boxer mixed-breed dog in January of this year.
State Animal Control Officer Todd Curry, who works for the State of Connecticut Department of Agriculture, said that the case originated on March 11, 2012 in Madison when a resident located a deceased dog discarded in a plastic bag in the woods by a lake and reported it to Madison Police.
Madison Police Officer Kimberly Lauria, who investigated the incident, was able to determine that Wullaert was the owner of the deceased animal due to an identifiable micro-chip that was recovered during a necropsy. Officer Curry said, “that through her further diligent investigation, Officer Lauria was able to contact and later interview Wullaert, who confessed that he choked the animal at his Branford home after it urinated on his leg and bit him.” Once the animal was deceased, Wullaert placed it in a plastic bag and discarded it in Madison.
“The local officer did an excellent job,” said Curry.
Wullaert was charged with cruelty to animals and littering. He was released on a Written Promise to Appear in New Haven Court on May 15, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.